We met with contractor to get a bid and really liked his ideas and work examples. He had good reviews from customers and we did our due diligence to verify his license and insurance. Everything seemed to check out, so we signed an agreement with him to do the work. Total bid is $11,600, with $7,000 due up front and the remaining balance upon completion. The agreed upon completion date was 7-10 days from receipt by if deposit, which was about April 20, 2018. Currently, they have done less than half of the contracted work and we are over 8 weeks past deadline. The contractor refuses to do anymore work until we pay the remaining balance. He has also be largely unresponsive to our frequent inquiries - until recently - when I suggested in a voice mail that we may need to consider legal recourse. He responded pretty quickly at that point, though still unwilling to render any additional services until we pay in full. Based on the work completed and materials delivered, cursory inventory suggests that the contractor has under-delivered on the original $7,000 to date. Can I get any of that money back? Also, am I liable for the remaining balance?
Contract disputes like this depend in large measure on your agreement. So, your rights with respect to payment and performance of the work will generally be governed by the terms of your agreement. Without knowing what that agreement says any answer to your questions would risk being inaccurate. However, generally full payment is only required upon completion of the work and not before. If the agreement requires performance by a certain date, then the contractor is in breach of the contract and further payment may not be required . If it does not, then the completion time frame that was discussed prior to entering into the agreement may be unenforceable. If the contractor has under-delivered, as you suggest, and the contractor is in breach of your agreement by failing to perform, then you would normally be entitled to repayment of some of the monies paid to date. The amount at issue is within the small claims jurisdictional amount ($11,000). So, any lawsuit could likely be resolved in small claims court rather than through full blown litigation.
Disclaimer: The statements or comments provided above are general statements of the law and are not intended to be legal advice and do not create an attorney/client relationship. If you need legal advice with regard to specific questions, you should contact a lawyer.
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