How do I sue my contractor?

19 Replies

For all you contractors / rehabbers - help me out here. We bought a house last June and hired a GC to do about $60k worth of work - the main thing being to replace all the cloth wiring in the house, as well as upgrade us to 220 and install new panels. Well yesterday the lights on our first floor went out so we contacted the electrician he subbed. today we are fixing the problem (loose wire) and come to find out he never rewired the existing outlets/lights - he was only contracted to do the new stuff. This is how he line item it from our contract. I will be getting a copy of the contract he had with the electrician, but how do I best go about resolving this?


New 200 amp service with permit and new panel box $3,850.00

Additional for 3 panels $350

Estimate 40 openings for rewiring $55 each additional opening $2,200.00

Why don't you contact the contractor and give him the chance to fix it?

I did. As soon as I mentioned the rewiring was not done he stopped responding to my messages

Call the contractor's license board. If you got a licensed contractor, he should have a bond. File a complaint with them.

I would give him the benefit of the doubt but having it rewired and all the cloth wiring removed was our #1 concern with buying this place. We talked to him about it many times, even confirming it was done and no walls needed to be torn out.

Account Closed - Thanks! I dont know what the appropriate course of action is. I will do that first if I don't hear back from him by tomorrow

i don't know about your state but this sounds like too much money to be a small claims court issue. Which means you will have to hire an attorney. Your attorney will most likely try to settle the case but you'll most likely will still be out of pocket. And that's even if he decides to pay up and not just ignore the whole thing.

If he's ignoring you then bug the crap out of him even if it means calling him multiple times a day. Let him know you're not going away and you will not stop calling until you get satisfaction.

I have dealt with a number of contractors of various ethical standards their biggest fear is not a lawsuit but the person who won't go away.

I one had a contractor who wasn't completing a job I needed so I hired someone to call him every couple of hours until they got a good of him, and they changed their phone number so he could never tell if it was my person of a potential customer. Long story short, it got done.

So times extreme measures are best if you want the results you want.

Thanks @Steven Stokes It is just very frustrating. We still talk to him often as we only renovated the bottom 2 floors and still have the top floor and an attic expansion and a complete garage rebuild with a deck. He was planning on coming out in a few weeks to quote the garage - so he knows there is more business from us - it is just shocking that he would not have the work he promised done.

It is mothers day and he does have a family. But he was texting with me earlier about the lights being out and then stopped when I mentioned the rewiring not being done

@Brianna Schmidt

I would go with Aaron's approach - contact the licensing board as he should be bonded. He should also be carrying E&O {but given this appears to be a willful failure of ethics, the insurance company may not come to the table}.

The next option may be small claims depending on the cap in your jurisdiction (here it is 12K). The last avenue of recourse would be civil court - as @Steven Stokes indicated, only the lawyers win ... unless you managed to secure substantial damages.

Im a GC. Call and leave an ultimatum. "You have one week to line out how this will be fixed or I call the Contractors Board the BBB and Consumer Affairs and ultimately an attorney." Ill bet he reacts.

Some thing was off from the beginning. Thats a high price for a 200 amp panel. Someone charging that much for a panel would charge $55 a point to change outlets not rewire them. The price to rewire should of been closer to 10k itself. I think someone screwed up the bid. Like everyone else said just keep after them. Steven had a great idea. That would drive me nuts as a contractor.

i think that's super high, although it's Chicago. but what do i know...

I like Aaron's and Jasons, suggestions.

why didn't you inspect these things as you went along? waiting for update..

The panel cost is on the high side but I don't think the $55 per run is too low. Seems average. Keep in mind we run conduit in Chicago so it's not too hard to pull wire. The total cost of the electrical upgrade had enough revenue to do the work per contract so the contractor needs to pull more wire.

I would just tell him he needs to fix it per contract if he wants more biz from you.

@George P. we trusted our contractor. We had so much going on in the beginning that for the first few weeks we just stopped by every couple of days. I talked to him today and he seemed super confused by all of it. He thought I was talking about a few of the outlets not being rewired, not 2500 sq foot of house not being done.

@John Weidner - A big part of the cost was that we had to get updated service from Comed and go from 2 meters to 3 with all the permits. The problem is that not all of the house has conduit. The guys are here now rewiring 3 lights and 3 outlets and we need to cut open 1 wall. Our house was built in 1911 and they think the wiring is original - hence why we "paid" to have it all redone

@Brianna Schmidt

Best of luck! I always love the "confused" reaction...

@Brianna Schmidt "cloth wiring" should have been a red flag that the entire house was going to need a complete rewire. Houses that old have little in the way of insulation, etc. wiring is old, everything is old! Probably tearing everything out to the studs and redoing the house would have made sense.

The problem is, most homeowners want the lowest price, and to do as little work as possible, not do what is required to do things right. I'm not saying that was you, it sounds as if you asked for it to be done correctly. It's always good when doing a job like that to get more than one bid. Make sure all the bids are the same, in that they are all bidding on the same thing, so you can compare apples to apples. Get a written explanation of exactly what work is going to be done, what materials will be used, etc. Break out the cost of labor and materials separately. Know what brand name of fixtures, appliances, etc. will be used Check references, licensing and bonds.

For where you are now, "you get more flies with honey than vinegar". Getting mad, ;making threats, driving him nuts won't do a thing to get you what you want. All of those things take a lot of time, and can drag on for years.

Call and tell him you have no interest in lawsuits, or filing complaints, that is a last resort. What you really want, is to sit down with him and find a solution to the problem, but that it needs to be done in a timely manner. (I'm not saying to be a pushover, but give him a way to make things right before you file any complaints) Also, check and see if the sub he used is licensed. Did you call him by chance? If not, you might try that route.

Good luck.

@Karen Margrave - we obviously knew we did not want cloth wiring - which is why we paid to have the house rewired. He just never paid the electrician to do the work. Which is why when we had the main floor of the house gutted, we thought the work was being done.

It is the original sub is who is over now fixing it on the main floor, and how we found out none of it was done. His contract with the GC was for the new service/panels and the new wiring in our kitchen and a few extra outlets. There is about a $3k discrepancy from what we paid our GC to what he paid the sub

Hey @Brie Schmidt - what was the final outcome here? Would love to hear how this played out as I'm in a similar situation.

Honestly, I would have to agree with another comment that I read and think that the bid had an error with it. Somewhere I believe there was a miscommunication. One thing that I do know from my partner being a master electrician is that that figure is definitely high for a 200 amp service, and that is here in the northeast where everything is more expensive.

From what I am reading, it sounds like an electrical clean up where switches and outlets were rewired. Check the language in your contract, but a total rewire would be substantially more than the quote provided. Also, it is very unlikely that an electrician would price a complete rewire subject to wire fishing holes. Language along the lines of complete rewiring, home rubs, etc would most likely be in there. Incidentals like fire stops or blocks, would be the unknowns built into the job.

Sounds like a combination of a very vague contract and possibly a misunderstanding of a description of the scope of work.

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