Contractor has vanished

6 Replies

I have worked with the same local contractor for the last 3 renovation projects.  I like his work.  But as of last week he dropped off the face of the earth.  I don't want to get rid of him, He is cheap with low overhead cost. Also, He fixes minor issues that come up with out demanding additional fees. (like staying to oversee the septic service when I was out of town)

Now, we are 2/3rds done on the current renovation.  There is 9K worth of work left on the job.  But as of 7 days ago his number started going to voice mail. I even tried calling form a friends number.  Emails are not replied too.  I mailed off a concern letter yesterday.  I have stopped by the job site a few times and left a note.  But I can't reach him and I don't know if he is OK.

I need to get this project done.  I am paying a sizable interest payment and not earning rent.  What are my options?  My contract has no terms for work stoppage or abandonment.  I still have the $9,000 needed to finish the job.  Should I open a complaint with the state licensing board?  Fire him and change the locks? Give him time?  I don't want to end up with a lien against the property. But I can't let this project slip behind schedule . 

well if you don't owe him money he cant lien it..

see if you can skip trace him and find next of kin and call them and say your concerned.

if no show hire someone to finish it..

hopefully he did not have an accident or something.. do you know where he lives go there first.  just basic stuff.

If you haven't paid him in advance to any great extent you already did the most important thing right because you can still finish your project.

I would start lining up another contractor. If the only one reappears before you have a new one in place great. Otherwise I would fire him and go with a new guy.

I doubt the old guy can lien your house if he has been paid for the completed work. He can try, but I suspect you would only owe him for any work he actually did, not what he promised to do.

This happens frequently in construction and trades. Even the most experienced operator encounters this, I'd assume he's out of the picture and move forward. 

@Wilson Lee

I would take a three (3) prong approach:

  1. Fact Finding - Contact the subcontractors that have worked with him in past.  They may know something and more importantly find out if they have done any work on your project and whether they have been paid.  This is where some of the liens can come from. Get dates on when the project started, the phone calls and emails you have forwarded, etc. Call the city/county to check on the status of any permits that may have been pulled and see how this would be affected.  The replacement contractor may need to transfer under his name.  Also, you can reach out to his insurance and/or bonding company and notify them of the issue.  
  2. Put him on notice - Draft a letter officially putting on notice and demanding he re-engages otherwise you will be forced to complete the work and he would be liable for any cost overages.   I would contact the local GC licensing board to get an understanding of what the timelines are in your jurisdiction.  I have seen three (3) to thirty (30) days with seven (7) being typical. 
  3. Develop a revised scope of work and get pricing/schedules from alternate contractors and get them ready to go.  You may need to check with the lender as there may be a process in which they have to approve any contractor changes. 

Good luck,

Ok, Thanks for the advice.   I will line up some contractors to meet Monday which will give the current contractor 3 more days to show up. 

I want to cover my self in case he comes back and claims more was completed than what is currently done.  Or tries to state the cost of a line item is more than before.  Our current contract is vague when it comes to line item cost. He lumped some items into categories.  I let it slide given our successful working relationship. 

What can I document and/or do today to help protect against any false claims?