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Old 06-06-2018, 07:12 AM   #1
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Contractor won't finish job, can't be contacted, ideas?


Basically, I need some initial advice on how to proceed. A contractor who started doing flood repair for me wonít finish the job, nor can I can contact them. I havenít paid the contractor any money yet, as the work is not finished, but I canít contact them anyway, despite numerous phone calls. I would think a contractor would want to finish a job and get paid, but this contractor does not appear to be that case.
My home suffered some flood damage in the last hurricane and needed a floor to be replaced and part of a ceiling to be repaired. The main issue was an unusual and incorrectly installed laminate floor by a previous amateur homeowner who A) put the laminate down first, then B) put the cabinets on top of the laminate floor. This strange, wrong way to do flooring was not discovered until a previous contractor attempted to replace the floor but could not do the job because they did not have the ability to do the larger project of 1) removing the cabinets, 2) strip out the floor underneath them, 3) reset the cabinets to the house foundation, and 4) then put the floor in up to the cabinetsóthe correct way to do flooring.

A new contractor, recommended by my insurance company, did do the floor for the whole house and was willing to reset the cabinets according to steps 1-4 just mentioned in the previous paragraph. However, in the course of the work, he claimed that since the cabinets where nailed into the wall, they were able to get the old flooring out from under the cabinets without having to: 1) extract the cabinets out, 2) rip out the laminate under them, and 3) reset them to the house foundation. So, this new contractor did replace all the floor with new laminate, but he did not reset the cabinets to do so.

My first question is: should I believe his claim that he did not need to reset the cabinets to put in the new flooring in the kitchen? Some of the money the insurance gave me was for resetting the cabinets. Should he be paid this money? He said that the kitchen floor is up to code, which is all I or the insurance company cares about. I do not know if this is standard practice or if there is a red flag here. I am skeptical, but Iíd like to hear what people think about this.

However, an island in my kitchen does need to be pulled out, the old floor under it cannot be removed in the way he said above since none of the island cabinets are attached to any wall. He did not want to do this work, but I insisted he do so. He promised he would. His men came a week ago to take the granite top off the island, put it in my hot, humid garage, and have not been seen since.

The contractor told me the dishwasher was done, but it is loose on the floor and rocks/wobbles easily. Obviously, it is not done right. The contractor has not returned to reset the dishwasher correctly.

He never even begun repairs on the ceiling, despite officially beginning my repairs almost 6 weeks ago.

What do you do about a contractor who wonít finish a job and that you canít contact? I donít want to pay him until he finishes the job, but that does not seem to affect him since he its like heís fallen off the map. I donít want to wait months living like thisóno one would. Is there any time limit wherebyóif he doesnít finish the work above--I can officially boot him from the job and look for another contractor, and pro-rate him on what he has done? Is this possible?

I am going to contact the insurance company to let them know what is going on. That would be my first step.

What would you all do in a situation like mine? What rights do I have here? I didnít expect this but donít what to do/try next.
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Old 06-06-2018, 07:21 AM   #2
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Re: Contractor won't finish job, can't be contacted, ideas?


I cannot help to wonder if some misfortune has happened to the man ? Accident, illness ?

Does he have any family members that could be called ? Any reference's that may have other contact numbers for him ? Just a thought......
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Old 06-06-2018, 07:30 AM   #3
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Re: Contractor won't finish job, can't be contacted, ideas?


Don't pay anyone anything yet. Do you have written contracts w/ anyone? If so, be clear on what they say. Then send certified letters to the contractors who disappeared. Tell them that if you don't hear from them with a definite schedule for completion within a week, they will be considered off the job. When you go to hire someone again, insist on seeing work that they have done.
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Old 06-06-2018, 07:51 AM   #4
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Re: Contractor won't finish job, can't be contacted, ideas?


I would send the letters, here you would send double registered so you get a copy of a signature back so you know it was received. The I would get the rest of the work done and subtract the bill from the second contract if it ever has to be paid and the same with the first contract. If you ever got sued I am sure that a judge would look at the time line your letters and a reasonable way of figuring who is entitled to what as fair.
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Old 06-06-2018, 07:59 AM   #5
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Re: Contractor won't finish job, can't be contacted, ideas?


If you have to go with another contractor you should look at using the AIA Simple Contract.
It will protect you & the contractor everything will be in writting.
If you disagree with any part of the contract you / contractor can add an addendum to this contract before signing.
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Old 06-06-2018, 12:32 PM   #6
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Contractor won't finish job, can't be contacted, ideas?


If the insurance company recommended him give them a call. They may have some leverage with him. I donít think leaving laminate under the cabinets is a big deal. It creates more work to trim around cabinets afterwards. One key issue here though is you say it flooded. Donít know what type of flooding you had. But if there is any chance for moisture remaining under cabinets then I would say it would have to be removed and replaced. Regular homeowners insurance would cover every bit of that. If itís insurance through the national flood insurance ( canít think of the correct name offhand) they will only cover a limited amount. Letís say replace bottom cabinets only if they were damaged during removal. But homeowners insurance would cover matching top and bottom cabinets. I think a call
To your agent is in order


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Old 06-06-2018, 04:43 PM   #7
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Re: Contractor won't finish job, can't be contacted, ideas?


Quote:
I think a call To your agent is in order
Keep in mind that it's the claims dept. not the agent who sold the policy.
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Old 06-06-2018, 05:18 PM   #8
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Re: Contractor won't finish job, can't be contacted, ideas?


Having been through storm recovery efforts several times (due to lots of regional damage from a hurricane), everyone offering advice needs to keep in mind that these types of recovery scenarios often include fly-by-night contractors. The recommendation from the insurance company may be solely based on a few jobs in that same recovery region, and may not reflect a valid basis for the contractor being either reliable or responsible in their work ethics.

The point is this... how most of us successfully deal with in terms of a "bad contractor" does not necessarily come close to the addressing the myriad odd issues people have to deal with in storm ravaged areas where there is such a huge demand for work and excessively low supply of workers.

In this particular scenario described by the OP (contractor having not been paid), the problem doesn't necessarily fit the "fly-by-nighter" scenario I talked about above.

That said, I would definitely involve the insurance company, send written notice to the contractor, and proceed right away with finding someone new to complete the work. You have lots of competition in finding a good contractor right now, so you should be acting sooner rather than later!

Be prepared to make partial payment if the recent contractor does in fact show up after a while (just set the money aside), and that includes making sure that you don't get double-dipped by having the new contractor charge for any of the work done by the previous contractor.

Keep records of everything.

The advice for getting the laminate out from under the wall-mounted cabinets is excellent... that really needs to happen to prevent a mold scenario.

Best of luck to you!
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Old 06-08-2018, 02:56 PM   #9
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Re: Contractor won't finish job, can't be contacted, ideas?


This is all been a great help everyone! There are so many ideas here that I can't give credit to everyone but am employing immediately that I did not think of on my own. I was able to track down his company and they said he was on vacation....a lame reason indeed, because he could have called me. I feel much better now as there are a lot of things to do about this. This is a pain and will take some time but I will let you know how it turns out. Sorry I didn't get to this sooner but I had a lot of work to do. I had rechecked this forum every time as the ideas came in.

I also realized something, for this kind of work, I will always look for that contract you mentioned, and put in there a completion date, if I can. I do know that larger construction projects involving buildings have timelines--where if the building is not completed on time, there is a cost penalty to the builders. I don't know if that is too extreme for housing projects, but I will want to include something like that for future, similar jobs, should they occur. This is a learning lesson for me as this is the first time I have needed a contractor for a project of this magnitude .
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Old 06-08-2018, 04:41 PM   #10
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Re: Contractor won't finish job, can't be contacted, ideas?


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I do know that larger construction projects involving buildings have timelines--where if the building is not completed on time, there is a cost penalty to the builders. I don't know if that is too extreme for housing projects, but I will want to include something like that for future, similar jobs, should they occur. This is a learning lesson for me as this is the first time
It's not a cost penalty, it is liquidated damages. Essentially an estimate of losses that the owner will incur for the delay.

If the liquidated damages are contested in court (after the fact) and the judge finds it was a punitive amount, he will toss the damages out. While he may give the owner a chance to show reasonable damages, they have been known to reset the amount from the bench.

Assuming that the contractor is smart (or gets good advice), the first thing he is going to do is submit a long schedule to you that will use every day of your target. Or, he will give you a date past it, and try to negotiate your target date to his date, or as close as he can get to it.

Then, he should turn around and ask you for early completion money. After all, if it costs you that much per day of delay, don't you save that much for each day he finishes early ? Shouldn't he get all or part of the savings ?
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Old 06-08-2018, 06:29 PM   #11
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Re: Contractor won't finish job, can't be contacted, ideas?


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Originally Posted by Oso954 View Post
It's not a cost penalty, it is liquidated damages. Essentially an estimate of losses that the owner will incur for the delay.

If the liquidated damages are contested in court (after the fact) and the judge finds it was a punitive amount, he will toss the damages out. While he may give the owner a chance to show reasonable damages, they have been known to reset the amount from the bench.

Assuming that the contractor is smart (or gets good advice), the first thing he is going to do is submit a long schedule to you that will use every day of your target. Or, he will give you a date past it, and try to negotiate your target date to his date, or as close as he can get to it.

Then, he should turn around and ask you for early completion money. After all, if it costs you that much per day of delay, don't you save that much for each day he finishes early ? Shouldn't he get all or part of the savings ?

If the AIA simple contract is used and you fill in all the blanks both parties are covered for total sum due. Also you the client or the contractor can state the amount due for early completion based on an agreed Compensation rate or the compensation due for late completion date. Also note that the scheduled value form 703 can be used for payment based on the value the contractor places on each phase of work completed with amount due.

There are only about 28 items on the simple AIA contract.
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Old 06-08-2018, 08:51 PM   #12
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Re: Contractor won't finish job, can't be contacted, ideas?


Oh, I see. I guess it does go both ways. I admit it--a penatly for a late job-- was something I recalled and wasn't expert on. I was just hoping for some way to have the contractor finish the job on time. That's all. Something legally binding that says "okay, if you say finish the job by then, then you will really finish it by then." I'm understanding about if the contractor has any projects and such, just let me know so I can plan for it. I will think harder next time about some way to to try to get a contractor to finish the job they say they will. Obviously, you are all right and with more experience, so I will incorporate advice such accordingly.
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