I Fired my Contractor, Now What?
- Documentation is key if you decide to default a contractor
- The replacement contractor needs to identify the defective or incomplete items
- Obtain a quote, an estimate and a report from the replacement contractor
- A court of law will not allow you to recover from the defaulting contractor those damages that were never his or her original obligation
Ask the replacement contractor to document everything
Specifically ask the replacement contractor to document the condition of the job, so that you can move forward and make a claim against the first contractor. Ask the replacement contractor to take a lot of pictures of both the inside and outside of the property. This will protect you if there is an issue later with the contractor you terminated. You will have the evidence of what the job looked like before the replacement contractor did any work. It is important you document everything before the replacement contractor begins his or her work.
Ask the replacement contractor to generate a quote, an estimate and a report
Obtain a quote from the replacement contractor. Get a list of all the things that were defective or incomplete from the job done by the defaulting contractor. The quote, estimate and report will identify what it will cost to fix any defect in the work or replace any materials of the first contractor. For example, the replacement contractor may realize that the wrong air conditioner unit was installed, or that the corner beads of the drywall were not done correctly, or that the driveway was poured at an improper slope, or that certain codes were not followed with respect to the work, or that the fit, finish and quality of the work were not the ones specified. Whatever the issues that constitute repairing or fixing the previous contractor’s mistakes, they need to be identified specifically on this quote or report. The basis for the repair or replacement also needs to identified. Maybe it wasn’t consistent with the contract, or with the standard industry installation procedures. There has to be a list and on this list of replacement items or repair items, the replacement contractor needs to include what it will cost to fix each item. This is then summed up to obtain a total. However, if the replacement contractor is coming in to finish the job that wasn’t done by the first contractor, you should have a separate list of items that include the cost to finish the work of the defaulting contractor. The replacement contractor needs to identify every item that was not yet finished, against what the scope of work was in the original contract and what it will cost to finish that work. These items need to be specifically delineated. Cite where in the contract this scope of work existed and ideally have a photograph of the item not yet done.
If you are improving things from the original contract or adding change orders, make sure they are tallied separately from the original items. This is because a court of law will not let you recover from the defaulting contractor those damages that were never his or her original obligation. For example, if you change the flooring from tile to stone, that is not an item of damage between the defaulting contractor and the replacement contractor because you would have always had to have paid the defaulting contractor the extra amount for that work.
Keep in mind that documentation is key if you decide to default a contractor and contact a board-certified lawyer prior to pulling the trigger on any defaulting contractor.