Contractor DisputesYou’ve made an exciting decision about your home or business facility: It’s finally time to remodel your kitchen—or build an addition, or incorporate green design, or begin whatever major improvement you’ve long imagined. If you’re like many, you immediately go about the business of hiring a contractor(s)—without fully understanding laws, risks and rights. Unfortunately, that lack of awareness can easily lead to an outcome no one wants: a contractor dispute.

Getting Started

Given some nightmarish tale (or multiple) you’ve undoubtedly heard from a friend, family member, neighbor or co-worker, possibly combined with a negative experience of your own, the very word “contractor” may give you a feeling of angst. On the other hand, maybe you’ve had nothing but great experiences in this realm, and you’ve always taken those stories with a grain of salt. Either way, it’s important to tread carefully with every new project you plan.

As you search for the right individual or company for the job:

Ask around.

If they ultimately found success with a different contractor, those friends who’d learned the hard way may be great resources.

Do additional research.

  • Check ratings and reviews on trusted websites, with an eye for the specific service(s) you’d be using (building, roofing, landscaping, installation, etc.).
  • Explore the contractor’s own site. Take note of when the business was established and the general sense of professionalism you get—or don’t get.
  • Find out your municipality’s licensing requirements around property improvements, and make sure any contractor you consider meets these.

Make contact.

Call or email the contractor you’re considering. Ask about their specialties, typical clients, insurance, payment policies and other important factors. Ask for references as well.

When You’ve Found the One

Ready to hire? Then it’s time for these tips:

  • Get a written contract. It may be a good idea to review this with an attorney before signing, to ensure inclusion of all key details.
  • Once the project begins, keep detailed records of all correspondence, progress and plan changes.
  • Do not make a final payment until you have assessed and approved all work done.

Red Flags—and What to Do If They Arise

Trust your gut if something doesn’t seem right. For example:

  • You notice signs of sub-quality work, or “cut corners”.
  • Costs start approaching an agreed limit, with considerable work still to be done.
  • Receipts are not itemized or do not accurately reflect completed tasks.
  • You have evidence that a contractor has not actually worked hours claimed.
  • Communication channels are not open, or the contractor seems unreliable in other ways.

As soon as something concerns you, talk to the contractor. If the contractor is elusive or unreachable, denies the concern or refuses to address it, it’s time to consult an attorney with experience in contractor disputes.

It’s your property and your investment, and you have the right to protect them. Call us to learn more today.