Slow Contractors

On the house I am rehabbing currently we are only dealing with one contractor which is putting in CAC.

We have paid them 2 of 3 payments and they are almost done, however, they have not showed up in 2 weeks and only the condenser unit and blower unit, along with connecting a few ducts remains to be installed. We owe them 1,800 dollars more when this is completed, however, I am getting annoyed that they will not return calls or show up to finish. Can we fire them, and get someone else to finish the work, or can the contractor sue us for not allowing them to finish contracted work?

I have never had to deal with contractors this bad and am wondering my best course of action would be.

FYI It has been almost 2 months since they started installation, on a job that they said would take 2 weeks.

did you have a time of completion in the contract? How many years have the contractors been in business? How many calls did you make? You need a minimum of 5 to get concerned, people die, vacations, phones not working right, etc.

A contractual performance clause could have allowed you to avoid these delays—this is how it could be worded, "I agree to pay you X (whatever price was agreed upon orginally) only if the said work is completed by (insert date). In the event that you should not be able to perform as promised, the final cost for your work will be adjusted to (adjusted for carrying costs, the cost of lost opportunity, etc.).


Scott Miller

In our contracts it says that every day past agreed completion date there is a $150 charge (which comes off the amount I owe them), and that if they are not at the property for over 3 days the job is considered abandoned and we get somebody else to finish the job. It hasn’t happened yet because we have good contractors, but if it does we are protected.

To answer your question though, I would just leave them one last message telling them thanks and you are having somebody else complete the work, period. That will either wake them up or hopefully get you off the hook. My two cents!

I had a similar experience not too long ago. My 2cents “You cant expect “A” quality work from a “F” class contractor!” Save yourself the headache and hire somebody else. Even if the guy does come back do you really want to deal with such an unreliable contractor. Don’t pay and beg at the same time! And no they cant do anything to make you pay them for work they havent done, you could actually take them to civil court for non-rendering of services (or something like that). Bottom line fire them and move on.

So what happened phatman?

I called a few more times and left a voicemail. Yesterday I called and told him that we had considered the job abandoned and he needed to call me by the end of the day, or we would have to go about finding someone else to complete the job. Still no returned call.

It’s been 3 weeks since he has come to the job site, and we have left at least 10 messages, he told us two different times that he would be out and did not show up either time.

I am worried that if we get someone else he will try to get the last 1/3 of the money we owe him.
Almost everything is complete, only 1 duct needs to be tied into the main line and the condenser unit and and main line need to be tied into the blower, and the job will be complete. Maybe a half days work…

I would make sure and get proof that the job isn’t done, like taking pictures. Maybe a quick call to your attorney also. Good luck on this. :beer

Take pics and bring in a reliable person or two so that you can say they are witnesses. If he tries to come after you for the money, he will back off when he sees you are prepared to whip him in court.


Well, I do have my cell phone call list which probably has 30-40 calls to him since we he has started with only 3-4 return calls. So that there would be one of my best pieces of evidence of abandonment.

Also we have the receipts for payment which are only 2, but span over 6 weeks, which I would think shows this has taken an unreasonable amount of time.

He also never pulled a permit for the job, so he is doing the work unpermitted which goes against him as well.

Thanks for all your input guys!

If you had a contract with him, he is in material breach of contract and all the clout is in your department Maintain a paper trail and record of your efforts to communicate and do not pay him a dime. Keep track of your liquidated damages…ie, the cost of delays, rescheduling, interest charges, charges to you due to not finishing the project on time including carrying and interest. Sometimes it will cost you more money to have a job completed by another contractor and that explains why his bid might be lower than someonelse. Either way any money you pay out in excess of the original estimate should be presented to him as a bill. Document your efforts and next time use a contract with liquidated damages, time of completion clauses and you might incorporate language dictating a daily presence on the job and specific remedies for abscences in excess of any specified time period. That is how I have to handle sub contractors who default on my jobs.

Well we have paid him 2 of 3 payments.

If we take him to court don’t you think our costs (lawyer & time) will be more than we will recoup trying to prove lost time?

Lawyer?!?! Exactly how much will you be suing him for? At worst, this is a small claims matter so there will be no need for lawyers.

Not pulling permits is a bad sign. Is he licensed? If not, he will have no standing in court and you will win even if you really do owe him money.

I suggest you send him a registered letter summarizing your attempts to contact him as well as the remaining work to be completed (judges love registered letters). Give him a few days to respond and then hire someone else to finish the job. If it is as complete as you indicate, the additional costs should be small. You could come out ahead on this one.

How do we get these contractor contracts?