This contractor lacks communication skills, he started the job but was never present during any of the phases of the project. We have missed city inspections due to his lack of communication, we are now at the last phase and he has disappeared. I stil owe him the last payment but his job is not complete. No attention to detail shows on the decking, the salt system is installed without power, when pump runs shooters leak, decking is rough and some areas are chipping away. I have been very patient and understanding with him but It's not too much. Need help on what my next step should be.
Administrative Law Lawyer
One option is to have a discussion with a CSLB analyst assigned to investigate complaints. Here is the link: http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Consumers/FilingAComplaint/
You might let the contractor know in writing that you are making recourse to CSLB. That can sometimes cause an improved attitude and attention to the problem.
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If the contractor has disappeared, it may be difficult to do much of anything with him. You should contact other contractors and see how much it would cost to complete/repair the work. You may be required to mitigate your damages in the event that you sue the contractor for breach of contract, anyway. At least, this way, you have a possibility of getting your job done, and getting it done right.
I would send a letter to the contractor's last known address notifying him that you consider him to be in breach of contract and that you are hiring additional contractors to complete the work. If the completion of the job and the repairs to the substandard work cost you additional money, then you could potentially go after the contractor for damages, assuming he can be located and is collectible.
You may want to review your contract with an attorney as well, to see if the contract provides you with any relief.
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Construction / Development Lawyer
You need to look at a few different things: 1) check the California State Contractors' license board website to see if he is licensed; 2) check your contract with him to see what is stated and what is your recourse; 3) Check the insurance certificate for his General Liability insurance if you have a copy; 4) talk to the inspectors to see what is missing and what else needs to be done.
If you have insurance information and his work has damaged other parts of the job or your property, you may have a claim either as an additional insured under the policy ( if you asked him to add you as one at the beginning of the job) or as a third party claimant.
You do need to mitigate the damages and a certified letter to him with return receipt requested will be a notice to him that his breach of the contract has forced you to hire other contractors.
The amount of your damages will determine if you need to file a lawsuit, but I would talk to a lawyer to see if you should at least seek legal assistance in dealing with the problem.
The above information is educational in nature and is provided as a guideline. It is not given as specific legal advice. Each case is different and you should consult with a licensed attorney for your specific case.