Contractor Issues / Mini-Series, Part 2
Over the next few weeks, Beantown Law Group, LLC, will be discussing issues that arise with general contractors and subcontractors. This will be a 1,000 foot view of some of the issues that arise in the course of dealing. This shouldn’t be construed as legal advice, but we’re putting this out there to educate the public on being aware of issues before they arise.
So you hire that general contractor. The contractor gets past the initial hurdles of getting the work permitted and some initial prep work has begun. Let’s say that the bathroom has been gutted and there is just a bathtub and a toilet, but the vanity is gone and there is no tile. For some reason there is a delay. The general contractor hired a sub contractor for the tiling, or the company supplying the materials for a new vanity is behind, or the sub contracted plumber finds some hidden issues with the pipes. Either way, the general contractor is now behind schedule. No big deal, but you hear that the contractor is completing work for other people that you know . . . just not for you.
After a few unreturned phone calls, you realize something is up. Finally, you get a return phone call and the contractor wants more money. Was this in the contract? Maybe. Maybe there was some wiggle room for unexpected issues, which can be common in this type of work. You both come to verbal terms, but nothing happens past that. Another month goes by and you have an unfinished bathroom.
You call the contractor, and now he has vanished.
What do you do when the contractor has walked off the job?
To start, there are a few options that an attorney will explore. First is to make initial contact with the contractor, or his/her attorney. If the issues can be negotiated, then that will be the first step taken to get the parties back on track to perform their end of the bargain. However, if this breaks down, then your attorney may send them a demand letter in the mail. Demand letters are demands for the recovery of your damages* to put you in the place had the contract been performed. The third option, if the demand is not responded to, is to file a lawsuit in which you will litigate your side of the case before a judge. As you can suspect, each option requires more time, cost, and energy to pursue. Thus, the strategy and approach that you take is an important consideration to preserve your interests and get the best outcome.
*damages will be discussed in part 4 of this series