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If a contractor does not complete the work is he entitled to partial payment?

Cooper City, FL |

Kitchen is remodeled but not completed and contractor fails to correct multiple mistakes and sloppy work. I am at the point of saying forget it and hiring someone else. This has been going on for 4 months now. Can I refuse to pay and hire someone else legally.

Not exactly. We have paid the contractor 1/2 of bid as he requested. We do not live in the same town so we are not able to check on a daily basis os we have relied on the contractor to keep us updated. He has been lying. Has not completed any of the repairs he was hired to do. I am writing him a letter putting him on notice that job must be completed by a certain date. I'm not sure if I have to reference something to back this up.

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Attorney answers 2


I recommend that you review your contract and the lien language carefully, then contact John Shahady, Esq. at 954-763-1200. He deals with contractors and construction contracts quite a bit; and I bet he can guide you. Good luck.

Dennis Phillips, Esq.
Florida state-wide personal injury, wrongful death, hurricane, and homeowner claims. Negligence is no "accident". Learn your rights.


Based on the way you question is written, I presume the contractor is still working.

The contractor is entitled to payments based on the contract agreement you have. Payments are typically based on the percentage of work complete on a monthly basis or some sort of mile stone being reach (such as passing rough in inspections). Now, you have either minor items you want them to fix (punchlist items) or major concerns (wrong stove installed). For the minor items, most contractors like to repair (touch up) work/ "punch list" items at the end of the job. If the contractor is still working, you can continue to give them a written list of the items you have concerns with and notify them in writing that you will be with holding a percentage of the payments until these items are complete. The standard is 10% of the overall contract amount is withheld until the items you are concerned about are addressed. You may need to hold back more or less depending on what your concerns are but be sure to look at your contract and see what it allows. If not addressed in your contract, only try to withold the amount you feel necessary if you had to bring in another contractor to do the work. Provided the contractor is still working on your project, you must know they have the first right to remediate any problems before you bring in any other contractor to do the work. Basically they have to tell you they are not going to fix the problems you are bring up.

For the major items (such as wrong type of tile delivered or not the right cabinets) you must put them on notice immediately that you are rejecting this item and will not be responsible for paying for it until corrected.

If you do not pay them for work they have done correctly, technically you will be in breach of contract and unfortunately they will have a claim against you. Long story short, they are do a partial payment for the work complete correctly based on the terms outlined in your agreement.

As a licensed contractor and attorney, I offer you the following recommendation. Review the amount they are asking you for and see if it is a fair percentage of the overall contract in relation to the percentage of the job complete. If you feel comfortable with that, tell them you are witholding 10% for the items you have pointed out that you are not satisfied with. Try to get them to commit to a time when they will repair the items you have issue with. You can contiunue this process for the remainder of the project. (as noted before 10% is a standard number and may need to be adjusted based on what kind of issue you may have. i.e. delivery of the wrong type of cabinets vs. a few wall tile being out of line.)

As my final not, it must be stated in Florida as long as a contractor "substantially performs" and completes a project they are entitled to full payment. Make sure you obtain a partial release of lien for all payments you make to the contractor.