Contractor Taking Too Long to Finish the Job: What to Do


contractor taking too long to finish the job

When you hire a contractor to work on your home, the hope is that they will work hard until it is done. Unfortunately, sometimes contractors can stretch a job out and leave it unfinished while you still pay them for their services.

Simply encouraging a contractor to finally finish the job you paid for is not enough to rectify the situation. If the contractor is stretching a job out and all of your pleading has failed, firing them is usually the best solution.

If you terminate the contract, you need to be fully prepared beforehand. Gather all of the necessary paperwork or possibly photographic evidence before you fire them.

From there, you can file a claim and go into arbitration or mediation. If the conflict is not resolved, you can even take it to small claims court. Contractors licensed with the state board can be rushed into arbitration to quickly take care of the problem.

The longer a contractor takes to finish a job, the more money you have to keep spending. Let’s take a closer look what you can do when a contractor is taking too long to finish a job.

Negotiate Ahead of Time

Before hiring a contractor, try to get a clear estimate of how long the project will take them. Estimates are not always exact, but you can at least decide whether or not that time frame is reasonable.

Great contractors want to complete projects quickly to collect completion pay and start the next job. Avoid contractors that request the majority of the payment upfront. If they have already been paid, there is less incentive for them to complete the job on time, or at all.

If your contractor already began work, it is not too late, and you should speak to them about it.

Talk to Them

Tell your contractor about your concerns about the work being done. You can expect that they may become defensive. Make it clear that from your understanding the work should be finished or at least much further along than it is.

Present the contract if you need to show that you are not as far as was promised. If it is a case of them only showing occasionally and for a limited time, they will say that is not in violation of the contract.

Talking to them may encourage them to finish the job. However, if it does not, then you need to pursue more drastic measures such as firing them.

Terminate the Contract

If you have tried to reason with the contractor and nothing has changed, it is time to fire them. Before that, gather any photos you may have from before the contractor began work.

Take clear photos of the incomplete work for comparison purposes.  Compile any correspondence between you and the contractor as well as the initial contract. You need to be able to show that the quality of their work did not meet expectations.

When all else fails, firing them is the only solution. Read through the contract and see if it specifies termination fee costs. Some contracts do, and in that case, the contractor will request payment when you fire them.

You can either choose to pay them that fee then or wait and possibly contest it in mediation. Even if you pay the fee, you can possibly be reimbursed if you have a claim paid out or in arbitration or mediation.

File An Official Complaint

Check to see if your contractor is licensed or bonded. You can often find out if the contractor is licensed by looking at the contract. Otherwise, you can contact the license board to find out and potentially make an official complaint.

Filing a complaint with the licensing board is a great first step after firing them because contractors rely on their licenses. You are at an advantage if you have a licensed contractor, even if their work is not great.

Contractors can have their license revoked when reported to the licensing board, so they are quick to resolve issues when it comes to that. Filing a complaint is easy and all you need to do is look up your state’s licensing board and call them.

Usually, when you sign a contract, you can request a copy of their surety bond. If their insurance includes a surety bond policy, you can be paid out by the contractor’s insurer. That way, you can get compensation quickly and hire a better contractor to finish the job.

If you have the chance to file a claim it can save you time by eliminating the need for mediation or arbitration.

Get a Lawyer

Filing complaints may not always result in compensation. Depending on the amount you need to be compensated, a lawyer may suggest several possible resolutions, such as:

  • Arbitration
  • Mediation
  • Small claims court
  • Lawsuit

Mediation and arbitration are quite similar. The main difference is that you must adhere to the decision reached in arbitration. In mediation, however, the contractor could choose not to go along with the recommended solution.

A lawyer may also suggest taking it to small claims court. You don’t even need a lawyer present. However, if you are seeking a large compensation, small claims court is not the route to go.

If your damages are quite severe and you need a lot of money in return, a lawsuit is the best solution. Litigation should be seen as last resort. It should only come to a lawsuit if it is a large sum of money and the contractor will not back down.

A lawsuit is only necessary if the contractor continually dragged out the job costing you more money all the time. If it is a case of the contractor having taken too long resulting in termination, a lawsuit is too drastic.

The reason for that is that suing someone can be more expensive than it is often worth. If the sum of money that you stand to win in a suit is enough to cover legal expenses and the costs of hiring a new contractor, it is worth it.

Hire a New Contractor

If you are lucky, talking to your inefficient contractor will be enough to speed them up or get you compensated for lost time and money. Hopefully, if that does not work then filing a claim or reporting them to the board will.

The sooner that you can hire a new contractor, the better. When you find a new contractor, make it clear to them why the last one did not work out. Emphasize your desired timing for the task and be sure to specify beforehand or incentivize them with more pay after the job’s completion.

If your old contractor led to a claim payout or reimbursement, use the money to pay for the new provider. When hiring a new contractor, look out for a few things, including:

  • Check to see if they are licensed. Licensed contractors are more professional, qualify for surety bond policies and are more likely to settle disputes quickly.
  • Look into their public feedback and reviews. It can tell you whether or not they are quick and cost-effective.
  • Ask them if they are insured so that in the event of claims, you could be paid out quickly.

If your contractor is taking too long to finish, it may be time to replace them. Do what you can advocate for yourself and save yourself some money.

Upgraded Home Team

We are a team of home enthusiasts who enjoy sharing decorating, home improvement, and housekeeping tips with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for advice on styling your living room or the next DIY project, we've got you covered.

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