You've put a lot of thought into planning a renovation for your home or business, you've invested time in researching local contractors and hiring the best one for the job, and you've looked forward to seeing the beautiful results unfold. Unfortunately, things don't always go according to plan. Sometimes it's a small hiccup that you can easily recover from; other times, however, you end up with a massive (and expensive) mess that can only be blamed on your contractor. Here's what to do when your contractor does poor work.
First Things First: Know the Red Flags
Few contractors provide a bad first impression. Most will seem professional at first, but over time, they'll begin to show some warning signs, such as:
Handling a Bad Contractor
If you have a contractor that has done poor work, left you with a huge mess, or perhaps left a job undone, then follow these steps to minimize damage.
Document, Document, Document
Among the most important things you can do when you suspect that your renovation is going to become a bigger headache than anticipated is to document everything. Every single conversation, phone call, email, text message, and every attempt you've made to contact them should be documented. If they've abandoned the job and cannot be reached, send certified letters with return receipt requested, outlining the problems that you're experiencing and ask that they contact you immediately. If you later go to court or seek out the assistance of a third party, these records will play a crucial role in supporting your case.
Use Whatever Leverage You Have
Most contractors agree to accepting a small upfront payment to cover materials and labor and then payment in full when the job is done. If your contractor is dragging out the job, use the money that you still owe them as leverage to encourage them to finish the job. If the job is done, full payment has been provided, and the work ends up being subpar, then the threat of bad publicity may be all it takes to prompt them to come back and make any necessary repairs and improvements. Threaten to take your complaints to a local reporter and post about your negative experience on social media.
If your efforts to resolve the issues yourself aren't yielding the desired results, then it may be time to seek out help. For example, if you've paid your contractor an upfront amount for supplies and he or she ghosted, then obviously that constitutes theft and you should call the police. Other options include pursuing the contractor via the board that approved their license, hiring an attorney, or contacting the Better Business Bureau, your local consumer protection office, or your state's attorney general's office. In the end, you may not be able to recoup your financial loss, but you can have the satisfaction of ensuring that no one else is taken advantage of.
Improving your home or business comes with risks. As with any large project, taking the time to thoroughly vet the people that you're entrusting with your renovation can prevent a lot of frustration later on.