How To Deal With a Bad Contractor

Chances are you've heard the horror stories. Your neighbor hired a general contractor who didn't finish a job, or your best friend hired one who created a safety hazard with his or her work. Nobody wants to hire a bad contractor, but sometimes no amount of preparation helps you to avoid it. If you have someone working on your home who isn't performing up to your standards, you do have options. Read on to learn what to do when a contractor does poor work.


The Difference Between Bad Contracting and Different Aesthetic Visions


Before you begin the process of dealing with a bad contractor, ensure you truly have a bad contractor on your hands. Sometimes, a client has different design visions than the contractor does, or the contractor simply doesn't have the capability to meet the client's design requirements. In these situations, the problem is most likely miscommunication and not a contractor who isn't doing his or her job correctly. Differences in design vision must be handled differently than bad contracting.


Handling Different Aesthetic Visions


If the problem you have with your contractor is that you have different design ideas, you can likely solve it with a bit of extra communication. Remember, a contractor's job is to create a solid, well-built, and safe structure. Sometimes, a contractor also handles the design side of the job; however, often, you'll need to hire a designer separately. Even if you don't intend to have someone on the job for the entire time, a consultation with a designer and your contractor will make it easier for you and the contractor to work together to reach your vision.


What to Do When a Contractor Doesn't Finish the Job


If you do determine that the problem is not a miscommunication but in fact that your contractor isn't doing his or her job correctly, you'll need to know what to do when a contractor does poor work. Of course, first, you'll need to determine exactly what the issue is. From there, you should try to communicate with your contractor to solve any issues. However, if he or she is unreceptive and you cannot reach an agreement, you may need to begin the firing process. Should this occur, keep in mind that you'll need a wide range of paperwork:


  • Your copy of the contract
  • Copies of emails, texts, and photos
  • Logs of any phone conversations
  • Evidence of payment


Firing a Bad Contractor


When figuring out what to do when a contractor does poor work, you may decide that the best course of action is to fire him or her. With any luck, this will also need to be the only step of your plan. However, before you terminate a contractor, you must read your contract thoroughly. Some contractors have termination clauses that indicate you still owe money or must meet other criteria before you can deem the agreement null and void. Regardless of why you decide to fire a contractor and what the contract says, be sure you have proof of your just cause to terminate in case there is pushback.


Filing Claims Against a Bad Contractor


Depending on why you decided you need to fire your contractor, you may need to file claims against him or her as well. Claims may be necessary if your contractor is licensed (he or she should be!) or bonded. A licensed contractor must meet strict standards to retain a legal license, which means he or she will often go above and beyond to fix problems and avoid a report to the licensing bureau. However, if you do need to report to the bureau, you can usually do this quickly online by searching for your state's licensing department.


Some contractors are also bonded. Surety bonds are meant to protect you from a contractor who does poor work or doesn't complete a job. If your contractor is bonded, you can file a claim via the insurance agent, but only if you got a copy of the bond before signing a contract. Filing a claim on a surety bond repays you for any losses you sustained during the job.


What to do When a Bad Contractor Leads to Court


If you suspect a contractor may push back on termination, you may end up in court or in a similar situation. If your contractor doesn't have a license, you will likely find yourself in mediation or arbitration. Mediation includes meetings and possible solutions, but you can opt not to use the suggestions. Arbitration is similar, but the solutions given are binding requirements.


On occasion, a problem will arise that requires you to file a claim in small claims court. If you decide to go this route, it is important to hire an attorney. An attorney can help you sue if necessary, although this should be a last resort. Remember, small claims court can be time-consuming and does have a claim limit.


Where to Post Public Reviews of a Contractor 


Deciding what to do when a contractor does poor work may leave you feeling frustrated. Regardless of whether you end up in court or have an easier termination experience, it is a good idea to leave public reviews that can help future clients. In addition to social media sites such as Facebook and Google, be sure to make official complaints with the Better Business Bureau and Angie's List.


How to Avoid Problems With a Future Contractor


Naturally, now that you know what to do when a contractor does poor work, you want to know how to avoid problems with contractors in the future. First and foremost, screen potential contractors carefully to ensure they are licensed and have excellent references. Get multiple quotes, be very clear about the work you expect of your contractor, and, if possible, ask the contractor to take on a smaller project before doing any large ones. Finally, remember to take photos of the space before, during, and after the job.


Whether you're trying to create a safer basement or a beautiful new kitchen, you deserve to work with a contractor who is professional, friendly, and ready to do his or her best to ensure your happiness with the job. When you want to work with licensed, bonded, and insured professionals, you want to work with Contact the team today to learn more about the professional contracting services available.

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