Contractor died in the middle of project(s). Now what?

2 Replies

Long story short, I was working with a contractor on a rental property rehab as well as a project on my primary residence. He passed away a month ago unexpectedly. He was fighting pneumonia and I knew he was behind on his work because of hospital visits, general recovery, etc. but he was definitely not expected to die. On the rental property, he was paid in full, and had a few things left to punch off (install appliances install HVAC that were supposedly purchased but waiting to install, finish laying sheet vinyl flooring in three rooms). On the primary residence, more than half the project has been paid for, and only about 1/6 of the work has been done. Before I get a bunch of negative comments, let me say that this was a huge wake-up call to never ever ever ever pay someone for work that has not been completed.

He has a "business partner" who has been working with him for years and whose name is on all the documentation regarding the scope of work for both projects. The business partner told me about his passing and "vowed" to me that the work would be complete. That was a month ago, and after following up multiple times, no work has even resumed. The contractor also has a brother that worked for him, who is a very nice guy and I don't believe would intentionally leave someone hanging, but I've gotten the same responses from him (the work will be completed), but no progress has been made.

What are my options, legally? I'm pretty sure he had an LLC (another lesson learned, always verify). I'm out about $10k for work that's not been completed. Am I just out of luck and need to consider it a loss and move on to someone else to finish the projects, or can I try to recoup that money?

Originally posted by @Theresa Harris:

@Eric Gay  Ask them for new documentation to reflect what has happened and a timeline as to when it will be completed.  If they had a lot of jobs on the go, aside from losing time to grieve; they will also be short one person and behind.

Thanks, I'll do that. I have asked for a timeframe for completion, and have been ghosted twice. I'll try again. 

Smarter rental management
Outperform your peers by 71%
NestEgg landlords save $6,960/yr in fees & 20 hrs/mo*. Self-manage for free or go hands-off for $29.
Start now, get $500

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

We hate spam just as much as you