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If I terminate a contractor in the middle of a project, is the warranty in their contract still good?

Seattle, WA |

Contractor was doing a major remodel on my home and was doing a horrible job. I gave them plenty of warnings and then terminated them. They were about 50% through completion of the project. There is a one year warranty in the contract we signed, but I terminated the agreement. Is the warranty still good on the work that they actually completed even though the contract was terminated?

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Attorney answers 4

Best Answer

No. Most warranties and contracts state this explicitly, but even if it isn't spelled out, a construction contract contemplates that the construction professional is responsible for an integrated whole, even if that professional is a subcontractor. Termination means that the contractor was deprived of the opportunity to make the entire system integrated into a functioning unit. You couldn't buy half of a radio and then claim for repairs under the warranty, could you? You will hire other contractors to complete the project, or will complete on your own, but you will not be able to claim any warranty against this contractor. This is a separate and distinct claim from a breach of contract cause of action, however. Still, you will bear the burden in a breach of contract case to prove that the contract was breached. The beauty of a warranty is that the burden of proving a defect in the work shifts to the contractor. That is why terminations are viewed as "death sentences" to the contract and treated very cautiously.

Without knowing all of the details, reviewing documents, and interviewing witnesses, no person should assume that this Answer constitutes specific legal advice for any specific legal situation. No attorney-client relationship is created by posting general legal responses on this site.

L. Maxwell Taylor

L. Maxwell Taylor


Outstanding answer.


If the contractor was doing such a horrible job, why would you want the contractor to come back to fix something that poorly performed on?

If the contractor failed to carry out the contract, the fix for you is to hire a competent replacement contractor to do what the first contractor should have done. If the replacement contractor has to re-do what the first contractor did to get you a usable product, the cost of fixing the mistake is part of your damages.

You should review the specific facts with your attorney to find out your legal options.


I don't think I could add much to Ms. Young's very good response other than to simply note my agreement.

Once you breached the contract, you cannot cherry-pick those provisions within it that favor you and hold the other party to only those terms.

You may want to have a lawyer review it for you if you have more concerns. Most of us here, including myself, offer a free phone consult.

Best regards,
Natoli-Lapin, LLC
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I agree with the prior answers. However, you may still have a recourse against the first contractor. If there are any warranties of quality in the contract, and you paid the contractor for all work he or she did complete, then you may have claims for defective work. Also, if the contractor caused damage to your personal property (to property that he did not create or that was outside the scope of the contract) you may have a claim for property damage. However, you may not want to bring any of the above claims if the contractor has a right to go after you for profits he would have received if he would have been allowed to finish the job. As stated above, in that case you may want to focus your time and money on finding an adequate replacement contractor.