Weigh the risks in contractor disputes
Construction projects can get tense, and when a dispute arises mid-project it takes some finesse to maintain working relationships or at least get the project done.
It’s always best to bring up any concerns right away and see if by talking it out you and the contractor can find resolution. Often contractors will be willing to redo work, or make changes to completed work, for a discounted price.
That can be the most cost effective way to resolve an issue, and can also help keep your project close to the original timeline, as the contractor will want to maintain the working relationship.
In certain situations, you may later be able to file a legal claim to recover the money you had to pay to get the job done right.
If a mutually agreed upon resolution is not feasible, prepare for a legal battle. An experienced real estate or construction attorney can help you develop a cost/benefit analysis and advise you on your best course of action. In some cases you may want the contractor to finish what it can, and then file your claim. In others, you may want to terminate the contractor immediately. These decisions will depend on the contract, the nature of the project, how much work has already been done, and other factors that you will want to discuss with your attorney.
Know that if you do fire the contractor, you may still have to pay, depending on the terms previously agreed to.
If your contractor is properly licensed or bonded, many state licensing boards will provide dispute resolution services for consumers.
In addition, the contract may require you to go through formal mediation or arbitration before being able to file in court.
Know that contractors have options as well. They can file a counterclaim and sometimes have the ability to put a mechanics lien (or other lien) on your home or property.
Be sure to consult with an attorney to decide when it’s worth the fight, and when it might be best to just fire the contractor and hire someone new.