You plan your remodel, buy your materials, and select your contractor. Then you sit back and wait for the work to be completed. Your contractor comes in, tears apart your house, and doesn’t come back. You contact him several times, each time he either doesn’t call you back, or promises to be there within a couple of days. Finally, you realize this guy isn’t going to complete your project. At least not anytime soon.
Hopefully, you’ve only given him a minimal payment at this point, but if you find yourself farther along with a greater investment, what recourse do you have?
File a complaint with your state’s contractor licensing board. California’s State Licensing Board for example, investigates more than 20,000 complaints filed each year against both licensed and unlicensed contractors. Additionally, in 2006, the CSLB collected over $44.8 billion in ordered restitution for consumers. A contractor doesn’t want his livelihood potentially terminated because of a complaint filed against him. Sometimes just the threat of such action is enough to settle the situation quickly. The link above also includes the ability to research your contractor’s license status before you hire him, and to view any previous complaints.
In order to be licensed, you contractor has to be bonded. When you sign the initial contract, be sure it contains all of his information including license number, bonding company, full name, and contact information. If you were unable to obtain this information beforehand, don’t worry, there’s another way. Go again to the state licensing web site, type in either the contractor’s name or license number, and his bonding company will be listed along with how much he is bonded for. Know Your Bond Basics explains the purpose of a bonding company along with how to file a complaint with the bonding company against your contractor. The state typically will not assist you in pursuing a claim against the bonding company, but their purpose is to settle such disputes.
If all else fails, take your contractor to small-claims court. A legal contract is binding, and there’s a good chance he won’t have a leg to stand on, as they say.
You can save yourself countless headaches by going through a contractor referral site. CalFinder does the legwork for you, certifying that the contractor you are hiring is reputable and accountable for his actions. Furthermore, if he does leave you hanging for some reason, he is risking loosing a valuable referral resource for his company.