What Happens When the Contractor Walks Off the Job?

contractor-walks-off-jobWhen you’ve signed a contract with a construction company, remodeler or handyman, you expect the job to be done both to your satisfaction and to the terms of the contract. But what happens when the contractor walks off the job?

There are a number of reasons a contractor might walk off the job:

  • They thought they were finished. A contractor might think that they have fulfilled the terms of the contract and completed the job, so they packed up and left. But to you, there were still things to be done, or the job was not completed to your satisfaction.
  • There was an unresolvable conflict. Sometimes homeowners and their contractors get into arguments over how a job is being done, or whether or not it has been completed to how the homeowner expected. And sometimes the contractor and homeowner just don’t get along or see eye to eye. When tempers escalate and things go sour, contractors may walk away from the job.
  • The contractor got a better offer elsewhere. There are occasions when a contractor signs a contract to work on your home, but then they get a more lucrative offer from someone else. They may walk off to take advantage of the higher pay at the new job, leaving yours undone. Often, they intent to return to complete your job later.

Fortunately, contractors don’t usually walk off the job, simply because they want to be paid for the full job. And in these days of social media and online review sites, they don’t want a bad review on their record for potential new clients to see.

Related: Don’t Get Ripped Off; How to Fight a Bad Contractor

Things you can do to help the situation include:

  1. Get an itemized, written contract. Outline the exact parameters of the job, right down to who will do the work, work and payment schedules, time, labor and materials costs. This will help to define the job at the beginning and serve as a reference should a conflict or difference of opinion arise.
  2. Require written change orders. If a contractor finds an unforeseen problem once the job has begun, this may add to the time, labor and material costs above what was forecast. If a change order is required, make sure that all the details are discussed, and it is signed by both parties.
  3. Realize that estimates are not binding numbers. If your contractor gives an estimate as to cost or time, recognize that it is only an estimate. Until they get into the job, they may not be able to determine the actual costs. They cannot be held to an estimated number if the scope of work changes.
  4. Don’t pay your contractor in advance. Set up a fee schedule for payments at checkpoints throughout the project. Hold the final payment until work is completed.
  5. Bring in a professional third party. If a conflict arises and you are unable to reach a satisfactory agreement, it is perfectly acceptable to seek outside advice. Först Consulting Group offers a number of services that can help including: professional inspections of the work, written reports, consultations, mediation between you and the contractor to come to a resolution prior to legal action; expert witness testimony and help building a legal case.

Most conflicts originate from an unresolved issue or misunderstanding between a homeowner and the contractor, and if the situation escalates, the contractor may walk off the job. Going through these steps will help to avoid problems in the first place.

See also our post “7 Ways to Talk With Your Contractor if You Have a Dispute

Has Your Contractor Walked off the Job?

When you need help with a contractor issue, contact Forst Consulting Group. Although we are not attorneys and cannot provide legal counsel, we can help in many other ways including consulting, homeowner services, home inspections, contract dispute resolution, documentation and litigation support. (See our “Services” page for details). With Först, you have an advocate on your side.


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