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Should I fire my contractor?

Bad Contractor Work

You’ve been working with a general contractor on the home improvement project of your dreams. At first, he came across as dependable, good-natured and seemed to have a strong work ethic. What’s more, his bid was the lowest of any other contractor in town. It seemed like a remodeling match made in heaven.

Until it wasn’t.

Firing a contractor can be challenging. You could be out some money – most contractors require at least a 10 percent deposit up front – or face a lawsuit. But there are situations where you absolutely are within your rights to send your contractor on his way. Visit Contractor Scan to find a trustworthy, reliable contractor who will get the work done right the first time – or fix someone else’s mistakes.

When should you fire your contractor? Here are a handful of reasons.

Construction mess
  • Communication issues. You are the homeowner, which means you are entitled to know how the project is going. A contractor who is vague, angry or lies to you when you ask for a status update is highly unprofessional. At the same time, a failure to respond to texts, calls or emails is also a sign of shady and improper business practices. A professional, quality contractor communicates with homeowners effectively and in a timely fashion. He or she will gladly update you on the project’s progress as well as show you how things are going, make you aware of changes and notify you of any building or subcontractor issues that need to be addressed.
  • Work that is done differently or not done at all. If the work looks different or is incomplete, then the contractor is not holding up his or her end of the bargain. Some unworthy contractors, for example, will charge up front for high-end materials and then use cheap, poorly-made versions to pocket the extra money. Or, some will drag the work on and on. Was the work supposed to be finished in a two months and it’s been a year? If you signed a contract where such provisions are being violated, you easily have grounds for termination – just like any other employer and employee.
  • Lackluster work quality. Does the outcome pale in comparison to what he or she promised? Are you starting to wonder if the portfolio of completed work you saw was fake? Poor workmanship is a valid reason to end a relationship with your contractor. Shoddy work is unacceptable.
  • Using alcohol or drugs on the job. Need we say more? Any contractor who drinks or takes illegal drugs while working (or who shows up hungover every day) should be let go. The same goes for subcontractors; tell your general contractor if you see something that alarms you or feels off. Studies have shown that many construction accidents happen when  booze or drugs are being used at the job site. And in this case, the job site is your house.Take care of it before something bad happens.
  • Showing up late – or not at all. Any employee in the workforce would at the very least be written up if he or she showed up late for work or skipped it altogether without calling in with a valid or reasonable excuse. In the construction business, time is money. Your time is important. Make sure your contractor respects your time by showing up when he or she promised.
  • Refusal to comply with building code or state law, and/or obtain necessary permits. It’s a safety issue, for one thing. A contractor who doesn’t pull permits could make you responsible for penalties or code compliance issues, and it could affect the future sale of your house.

You’re likely angry that your home improvement and renovation plans are at a standstill. But firing your contractor is delicate even when you have plenty of good reasons. Try to play nice, at least at first.

Contractor No-showSchedule a meeting to end the relationship. Avoid getting personal; instead, focus on workmanship and job performance. Refer to the work contract you both signed and explain why termination is necessary. Be civil and professional. It’s best to end on a positive note if possible.

Before you take any action, though, keep in mind: you may be found liable for lost profits if a contractor decides to sue for wrongful termination. He or she could put a lien on your house if you can’t show that he or she violated the work agreement.

Hopefully, you entered into a written contract with the contractor before the work began. It should have included a termination clause that allowed for either at will or for cause termination. If such a contract was in place, you can fire the contractor if he or she committed a material breach of contract.

Then it’s on to plan B – finding a replacement to complete the job.

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Your home’s value depends on the choices you make. Think it through, do your homework and hire a contractor with craftmanship you like and a work ethic you trust. Good luck!

About Contractor Scan

Contractor Scan takes the guesswork out of finding the best in the industry to complete your home improvement project. We search for and screen talented, trusted and reliable local contractors for you – which saves you time and money. Visit to quickly and easily find a great contractor to help improve your home.

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