One of the worst things to happen to homeowners working with contractors is when they unexpectedly flake on you, leaving you to deal with what is left of the project. But know that you are not alone. Here’s what you do if this happens to you.
It might be as minor as a blip on the project radar or as major as a total project shutdown, cancellation and failure. What we’re referring to is the act of hiring a contractor for your home improvement project only to have the contractor bail on the work – sometimes at the worst possible time – leaving you to figure out how to get the work done and keep the project moving forward. Sometimes it’s doable, sometimes it’s not and sometimes you have to go to court. The best thing to do is to keep track of dates, money and conversations. Having that information prepared and ready to go is always the ideal place to be, and it can serve you well if legal action is your only option. What else can you do besides (or in an attempt to lessen and avoid) legal action?
Follow these steps in case this happens to you.
Review the Contract
First and foremost, if your contractor flakes on you, review the initial and updated contracts you signed with them. Look at the agreed-upon dates, times, budget and other relevant information (permits, regulations, etc). You will want to read the fine print. Did they leave a disclaimer about what happens if they do not complete the work? Do they have some kind of guarantee for the quality of the work? You will also want to check the signatures. Keep all your contracts, receipts and other information about the project in one convenient location so that you don’t have to search everywhere for it.
Offer Them a Chance to Discuss and Get Back to Work
The best – and least expensive – option is to give them time to reflect on what has happened, what they have done and the potential ramifications of their poor decision before returning them to work – providing that is what you want. It is usually the best option because they know the task, they know the customer and unless they have seriously burned bridges, they can probably come in quickly and do the job.
If it is in your project’s best interests, you may even offer them a monetary incentive to do so. Give them a date/deadline to get back on track before taking further action. This will work for the majority of contractors, but not for everyone. Most people are rational and are unwilling to jeopardize their reputation or future opportunities in the industry. Usually, a reasonable discussion will resolve the issue, and that is all that is required.
Don’t allow them to go down the extortion road for more money. That may be what they were attempting to accomplish in the first place. Examine the circumstances carefully before giving them more money to finish a project you no longer want them to do.
Seek Outside Help or Intervention
Consult a trustworthy person for guidance and counsel, as well as maybe acting as a liaison with the offending party. For example, you can do this after making a reasonable attempt to provide some additional payment and get the employee back to work. It may not work, but in most circumstances, it can help resolve disagreements or bring a contractor or consultant who is refusing to communicate back to the table to discuss things. Using a third party usually gets the ball rolling in a more positive direction.
Seek Legal Action
Many times, you’re discussing a home improvement project with dollar sums that are simply too large to ignore. You can’t dismiss it as a lesson learned or a blip on the project’s radar. In certain circumstances, if it gets this far, you may have to go through the expensive and time-consuming option of hiring a lawyer and filing a lawsuit. There is no guarantee that you will win anything, and even if you do, there is no guarantee that you will recoup your fees. You can, however, help to ensure that the guilty party does not extort anybody else or cause harm to anyone else’s initiatives in the same way that they did to yours.
The initial step could be to approach a sanctioning board or regulatory body. This is true for contractors working on a construction job, for example. If they are licensed and the contractor bailed on you, you are partly protected and have recourse through the regulatory board. They can’t help you if they aren’t licensed, but they are more than willing to take action against the unlicensed party (through fines and eventually jail time) to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. In the instance of a more technical contractor…if they are under contract through a third-party firm, you have recourse through that outside entity to get financial recompense and a replacement resource. If they are self-sufficient, your only option is likely to be legal action, which can be costly and time-consuming. At that point, you must decide whether the process and the possibility of recouping any financial loss are worth your time, effort and money.
We cannot pinpoint the exact reasons why some people behave in this manner. They sometimes leave for better pay elsewhere. They may leave when they discover they are in over their heads. Their business may have closed. And sometimes they just flake out because they can’t be relied on.
The trick is to ask the appropriate questions when selecting a new consultant or contractor. Request – and follow up on – references. Check to determine if they have a positive or negative web reputation. And, first, create a good task breakdown for them and closely oversee them. You may discover that this isn’t essential in the long run. If close supervision is required, it may be the difference between keeping them focused on the project and losing them – and the time and money already invested in the project. Some people require this level of micromanagement and oversight. It may not be what you expected, but it could be your reality. The good news is that most contractors and consultants are competent, professional and concerned enough about their image not to abandon projects and walk away with thousands – or tens of thousands – of dollars of your money. But some are, and determining who they are can be tough.
But guess what — you don’t have to be stuck with a flaky contractor from the beginning. Instead, go with the top local, stress-free home remodeling and repair companies in your area — Valor Home Services. We have been helping people for over 25 years and have received over 100 five-star reviews. Our goal is to provide you with a stress-free experience, so you don’t have to worry about anything during your project. For more information or to hear about our services, call our team today.