You should write the contractor a letter by certified mail to request that the contractor return to correct/complete his work. In that letter, you should advise generally what work needs to be corrected/completed. You should also indicate that if the contractor does not return to correct/complete his work, you will have to retain another contractor, and will hold the first contractor responsible for the costs. Finally, indicate in your letter that if the contractor does not advise that he will return to correct/complete his work within one week, you will presume that he has no intention of doing so, and you will hold him responsible for the costs of correcting/completing his work.
When the contractor does not return, you can retain another contractor to correct/complete the first contractor's work. Make sure that the second contractor itemizes his invoices and lists the costs to correct/complete the first contractor's work. You cannot charge the first contractor with the cost of work that was not within the first contractor's scope of work. For example, if the first contractor was supposed to install carpet, you cannot charge him for the second contractor's installation of ceramic tile.
Once you have tallied the costs associated with correcting/completing the first contractor's work, you can consider suing him to recover those costs. The jurisdictional maximum for small claims court in Texas is $10,000. So, if your claim exceeds that amount, you will have to sue in County or District Court. In small claims court, you can represent yourself. In County or District Court, you will have to retain an attorney. However, under Texas law, you would be entitled to recover attorney's fees if you prevailed.
Make sure that you take a lot of photos of the first contractor's work. Digital photos with the date of the photo imprinted on the photo are best. You should document the condition in which the first contractor left the work and what it took to correct/complete the work.
Attorney Erikson's answer was excellent. I only add that home improvement contractors are many times licensed locally in the counties where they perform services (here in NY they are). You may be able to first hint/threaten as part of your letter that if they do not fix the problems then you will be forced to lodge a complaint about him with the licensing bureau (or whatever agency it is) so the public can expect in terms of shoddy work.....could be the little nudge to get him to take your demand seriously lest he lose future business from those prospects that check up beforehand on potential contractors.
My answer is not intended to be giving legal advice and this topic can be a complex area where the advice of a licensed attorney in your State should be obtained.
If it was a reputable contractor with insurance, you should be able to find a lawyer to handle this for you on a contingency basis. If the contractor has no money or assets, it might be difficult to get your money back. In these types of cases, you must identify all of the defects. Send the contractor a certified letter, to include cost of repairs, and if they do not agree to perform the necessary repairs you will need to sue them. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call or ask.
Know YOUR Rights. Take Action Now. CALL 855-648-4695. Legal disclaimer:This message does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Any statements are made for general informational purposes and do not constitute legal advice. Mr. Crockett is licensed in Texas in Illinois only.