Deck Contractor Has 2/3 Of My Money, Isn’t Answering The Phone

Kristina got estimates from a half-dozen different contractors to build her deck. All had excellent reputations and references. The company she ultimately chose told her that they would have the deck completed by the first week of May. Now it’s the second week in June, and there are a few holes in the ground, but no lumber, no workers, and no deck. She wonders: what should she do now?

Here’s my situation:

- Hired a contractor March 29th to build a deck, paid 1/3 down, told deck would be complete first week of May

- Emailed about schedule last week of April, so I could get irrigation lines marked

- Was not contacted until first week of May, told 2 weeks behind

- May 7th told footings would be dug May 9th

- May 9th, no show. I called, was told tomorrow

- May 10th, no show. I called, was told tomorrow

- May 11th, no one was home, but we returned to four small holes dug, piles of dirt left on
our new sod. I was told the ground was too wet, they would be back on the 14th to finish digging. Had to pay next 1/3 for “start of work”

- May 14th, no show.

I could repeat that line with a different date another 10 times.

- Finally, on June 1st, told the holes would be dug on the 2nd or 3rd, and inspected on the 4th at 9am. Footings would then be poured after inspection, and the deck would be framed on the 5th.

- No show on 2nd or 3rd

- Came out on the 4th at 9:45 and began digging. Added more dirt to the piles on my new sod. Poured the footings at 8pm that night, left without saying anything.

- June 5th, no one comes, no call.

- June 11th, I call and ask what the schedule is, receive email in the evening saying lumber will be delivered the 12th or 13th, with construction to start today, the 14th.

- June 12th/13th, no lumber delivery

- As of 9am this morning (the 14th) no lumber, no call, no returning of emails or phone messages.

I would love to take to the BBB, AngiesList, and Craigslist (where this company advertises) and warn everyone away, but since I am in a contract and they have 2/3 of the money, I am worried about backlash.

I am well aware that it’s not recommended to pay anything up front with a contractor, but with 6 estimates for a deck, every single one required a down payment. I would not have been able to hire anyone without doing this, so there didn’t seem to be a way around it. All the contractors I got estimates from had excellent ratings, reviews, and I checked all references.

Any advice?

Comments

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  1. tbax929 says:

    Is it a licensed contractor? If so, the state board that does the licensing would be a good place to contact. Contractors do not want to have issues with the state board.

  2. galm666 says:

    You may have to get into legal matters and nail the contractor to the wall with PR. They have more than enough money to start with and they’re being unresponsive. It’s not looking good, and your case should be pretty strong.

    • bluline says:

      Speaking of nailing them with bad PR, do any of your local TV stations have a consumer reporter? If so, I’d contact them. Local TV loves stuff like this, especially when they can confront an evasive contractor with an ambush interview. Often, the bad publicity alone is enough to get the contractor off his butt. On the other hand, the quality of the work they do afterwards may be very shoddy (deliberately), so I’d be prepared to document everything they do. In fact, I might go as far as setting up a video camera (or two) that records everything that happens on the work site.

  3. valkyrievf2x says:

    Call them up and demand your money back, or mount a lawsuit. Ask for most of your money back. While they did some work, it isnt anywhere near 2/3’s worth of the money you are out. While I understand construction is sometimes temperamental and there are delays, these people don’t seem to have their heads on right.

  4. crispyduck13 says:

    Call the owner of the contractor company directly and send a certified letter. Tell them that if they don’t finish the work by X date you will contact your state’s attorney general office about them. If you do contact the AG, send a copy of your letter to the contractor.

  5. Costner says:

    Keep hounding the contractor and give him a deadline. If they won’t answer the phone, send a registered letter. Tell him that the deck needs to show significant work (lets say 50% completion) by X date, and if that deadline is not met you will be speaking with an attorney to collect compensation including the funds already paid as well as legal fees etc.

    • Sneeje says:

      I really do think a certified letter is the way to go, but I wouldn’t include only threats. If it were me, I would include a reasonable, concise discussion of the issues and offer to be flexible and understanding in return for a better explanation of what’s going on as well as agreement on some dates for actions on your part.

      That way, its not you just yelling, but a reasoned case for why you would take action and your actions are clear results of non-action on their part. Courts are very supportive of whomever appears to be acting in a reasonable and understanding manner.

  6. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    “Deck Contractor Has 2/3 Of My Money…”

    See, there’s your problem. As soon as a contractor makes enough to cover the cost of ALL the construction, you’re no longer a priority to them — they’re out taking money from other people now.

    I had some remodeling work done years ago and I made damn sure my payments were very small. Give ‘em too much and you’ll never see them again.

    • tbax929 says:

      I agree that 2/3 is way too much to have paid for the amount of work they’ve done. Contracts are negotiable. If a contractor wants more than 50% up front, I keep looking for another one.

      • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

        Yup. I think when I had my work done we broke it up into separate jobs: set the tub, hang and mud the drywall in upstairs bathroom – $XXX; lay hardwood flooring in foyer – $XXX. I paid them maybe 1/2 up front to do each small job, and the other 1/2, NOT when the job was done, but when I was SATISFIED with the work.

        One thing I learned: some contractors will sell you the moon and then try to give you a small lump of green cheese once they have your money. The ones I hired tried to cut some corners on me but thankfully I was working beside them doing other things; I had to give ‘em a kick in the ass to get ‘em back on track more than once.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      Word. If they asked me for the next third of the money I’d ask them where the first third of the work was.

    • LuckyLady says:

      I don’t do business with contractors who require money up front. (The only exception is supplies, which I will buy and provide.)

      If they do the work and I don’t pay, they can always put a lien on my house.

      If I pay and they don’t do the work, I have to spend a hell of a time chasing them down, suing them, etc.

      I’ve only ever had one guy balk at this arrangement (payment in full upon completion of the work to my satisfaction). I told him good bye!

      I’ve had my house painted (about $2,500), a $12,000 bathroom renovation and $2,000 in roof work done like this.

      I live in a state where contractors don’t need to be licensed in order to do business, and there’s no statutory deposit for work to commence. So, I stick by my rule. So far, so good!

      • BrownLeopard says:

        When I had my deck company I asked for exactly what you provide. Materials cost up front, balance of quote upon completion with homeowner inspection and approval. If the homeowner isn’t happy, we make the needed changes and go through the walk-around again.

    • kmiles says:

      OP here. I paid 1/3 up front as seems to be the standard here – as I stated in my letter, none of the very highly rated contractors I got estimates from would do any work without any downpayment, and 1/3 was the smallest, others were 1/2.

      The second 1/3 was to be paid at the start of the project. This is where I think we got screwed, because they only did enough to be technically considered “starting” then left us to sit for 5 weeks – as you said they had our money and we stopped being a priority.

      I have worked with other contractors that had the same policy, and never had any issues like this. :-(

      • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

        At this point I would demand your money back. If they can’t provide you with better service than this, do you really want them anyway? Screw ‘em.

        (Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer.) Contact an attorney and have him/her send a letter via Certified Mail stating that these clowns (name-calling is optional) have exactly X-number of days to refund ALL of your money before you take legal action. Sometimes a letter from a lawyer is all it takes. Keep photo records and send frequent emails to people describing your troubles (email is considered admissible evidence in court; it works like a diary). Explain that if you have to take legal action you will be adding your own time and expenses, in addition to the attorney’s fees, to the settlement amount.

        Heck, you might not even need a lawyer, just someone who can write a really good, ass-clenching letter that scares the shit out of them.

        • Robert Nagel says:

          Any contractor that does this regularly isn’t going to be scared by anything you do short of pulling a gun on them and letting fly with a few rounds next to his head. They have been through it so many time is doesn’t faze then one iota.

    • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

      Actually, crispyduck13 made an even better suggestion above — contact the AG first and CC the contractor.

  7. Marlin says:

    Does the contract list a date to complete?

    But send them a registered letter telling them they have until XYZ date to complete or they need to refund 100% ($XXXX) of the money so far given.
    After that wait to either get it built or refunded. If neither has been down by 30days then file a small claims action.

    • BBBB says:

      Check with the local and state contractor licensing boards and contractor laws. In most areas, there are rules about giving the contractor the opportunity to fix or remedy any disputed work (or lack of work) before you take legal action or go after their performance bonds. This can mean a series of demand notices over a long period of time.

      I knew someone who had problems worse than the OP in that the partial work done on a house renovation did not meet code. They had to go through MANY rounds of demands to complete and fix the work to document the contractor’s non-performance before the licensing agency would let them put a claim in for the performance bond – then they had leverage to negotiate with the contractor to void the contract. Their lawyers and the state regulators warned them that if they didn’t build a good documented case showing that they gave the contractor lots of notices, that the contractor would probably sue them (and win) for breach of contract if they finished the job with another contractor (and most other contractors refused to take the job without the first one being released,)

  8. Gregory says:

    Yes, 2/3 is way too much to put out on a job like this. I’m a contractor in the PNW and the most I would require for a small job is 1/2. With the remaining due upon completion.

    Times are tight and the contractor may be behind on other jobs, it can stack up when the weather doesn’t cooperate. But not communicating will lose them your business.

    I would do two things; one is fire them and demand in writing all money to be returned by X date, indicate on what date you will file in court. The other thing is to go to your local permit office to find out what other permits they have, go to those sites and talk to them. If they’re not around leave a message with anyone that (your name) want to get in touch. This will likely get some response. If you want to be overly polite, do the last thing first.

  9. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I am missing where the second 1/3 of the money went to, but I concure on the sentiment not to pay the 2nd third until the 1st third of work is done.

    • everythingisungodly says:

      “- May 11th, no one was home, but we returned to four small holes dug, piles of dirt left on
      our new sod. I was told the ground was too wet, they would be back on the 14th to finish digging. Had to pay next 1/3 for ‘start of work'”

  10. eezy-peezy says:

    I had a U-shaped deck built around 3 sides of my house 6 years ago. Did not pay anything until it was finished.

    BTW, I got a bunch of estimates. The guy I went with had a TOTAL estimate that was lower than the MATERIALS estimate of another contractor. Did the whole thing himself, no helpers, one week, $3500. Very happy with it.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      Here in northern Metro Detroit contractor’s are very odd in their business methodologies. I am not from here so how the contractor’s are back home is normal to me. But here? I have called many contractor’s and when I request a quote, I am told, “if we give you a quote, then you need to let us do the work”. I’ve been told this by a Sears contractor, a furnace contractor and a few others such as a garage builder contractor. The Sears contractor made a snide remark as he left my house and stated that I should pay him for gas since I wasted his time. My reaction is either a snide remark or a laugh in their face.

      I think a lot of contractor’s especially in my area are unreliable and have no business ethics or people skills. Very “white trash”. It’s a foregone conclusion that multiple quotes benefits the customer but many contractor’s think your to serve them.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      Here in northern Metro Detroit contractor’s are very odd in their business methodologies. I am not from here so how the contractor’s are back home is normal to me. But here? I have called many contractor’s and when I request a quote, I am told, “if we give you a quote, then you need to let us do the work”. I’ve been told this by a Sears contractor, a furnace contractor and a few others such as a garage builder contractor. The Sears contractor made a snide remark as he left my house and stated that I should pay him for gas since I wasted his time. My reaction is either a snide remark or a laugh in their face.

      I think a lot of contractor’s especially in my area are unreliable and have no business ethics or people skills. Very “white trash”. It’s a foregone conclusion that multiple quotes benefits the customer but many contractor’s think your to serve them.

  11. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    Gregory: “The other thing is to go to your local permit office to find out what other permits they have, go to those sites and talk to them. If they’re not around leave a message with anyone that (your name) want to get in touch.”

    And don’t forget to bill them for your time, fuel, mileage, and other expenses incurred in tracking them down.

  12. longfeltwant says:

    Advice: call the contractor and tell them, or leave a message, saying you are so happy for them that they have so much business to keep them busy, but you can’t wait, so you have to choose another contractor. Then stop payment on the checks and choose the next contractor on your list.

    Contracting I’ve had done was also quite spotty and mixed. Often they are way behind schedule. That might be normal, but they should be able to estimate better than that. For you, it’s frustrating, but all you can do is take your money to the next guy.

    • wagnerism says:

      Most likely, those checks have already be paid out.

    • benminer says:

      Assuming they haven’t been cashed which they almost surely have been, stopping payment would be illegal. Do you often advise people to break the law?

  13. eldergias says:

    I would recommend to ANYONE having work done on their home or having one built, to not pay money directly to a contractor, but to pay the money into an escrow account held by a financial institution with specific benchmarks that the contractor has to meet to gain access to certain portions of the money.

    And if the contractor does not want to agree to this, they are free to not have your business. There are plenty of contractors out there who would be happy to have any work. An escrow account protects both the client and the contractor from either side not holding up their end.

    • Coffee says:

      Ding! We have a winner. They’re called “draws”…the contractor can “draw” a certain money from the account, but only after a benchmark is reached.

      • axhandler1 says:

        Who determines if a benchmark has been reached? The homeowner, the contractor, or an independent third party?

        • eldergias says:

          The homeowner and the contractor agree to the benchmarks in the initial agreement contract, before any work is done or money is paid. Then as the work progresses, the homeowner has to agree that a benchmark has been reached by the contractor for the money to be released. If the homeowner does not agree the benchmark has been reached but the contractor says it has been reached, the dispute is escalated to the escrow holder (who typically employs arbitration to resolve the issue) after a grace period has passed in which the homeowner and the contractor are supposed to try to resolve the issue.

  14. cosmic.charlie says:

    Call Mike Holmes.

  15. deathbecomesme says:

    You might be screwed since they “started the work” in your city. Some cities have weird laws/codes regarding contractor work. Lets hope you don’t get caught up in that. Hope you get your money back or work done promptly

  16. deathbecomesme says:

    What was the weather like those dates you have listed? That would be an important fact if this goes to court

    • kmiles says:

      OP again.

      We had a wet May, but maybe 1 or 2 of those days actually had any rain, and of those days it only rained for an hour or so, tops. To put it into perspective, 4 of my neighbors on my block had decks built in the month of May. Also, 2 blocks away is a new housing development. Three whole houses have been constructed and listed for sale since May 1st.

  17. InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

    I’ve never owned a home, so I’ve never had to deal with it. I would think there was a contract involved in hiring someone to do this sort of work, and the contract would include things like expected completion date final due date for the work. Or is that not standard on these types of contracts?

    Because if it is included in the contract, I would think that’s a pretty clear case of breach of contract, which would be grounds for a lawsuit. (IANAL)

  18. pgh9fan1 says:

    I am surprised nobody has mentioned the obvious. The contractor is going broke. That’s why the firm wanted the second payment for “start of work.” The first third goes for ordering materials. That’s fair–especially since a lot of these jobs require custom cuts that cannot be returned to the manufacturer once the contractor has bought them.

    They used the second payment to cover bills/payroll/materials for other jobs. They haven’t started OP’s job yet other than the holes because, most likely, their vendor needs money on their past-due account before they’ll ship any goods. Perhaps they’ll use someone else’s “start of work” payments to buy the material for OP’s job.

    • kmiles says:

      Consumerist cut off part of my letter. I had lumber delivered from Home Depot this morning. I was specifically promised that they do not buy their lumber from big box stores (Home Depot, Menards, etc) due to the poor quality. I took pictures of the mold, mildew, splitting, awful lumber and then refused the delivery. You might be right on the lack of money, but it’s apparently enough for them to get cheap lumber.

    • erratapage says:

      We had this happen to us when we built an addition on our home. We went with a highly recommended company. However, they kept asking for more money without showing any evidence of work completed. About 1/3rd of the way through the project, they had over half our money, and our subcontractor told us the owner of the company was selling the company and moving to Florida. We then found out that the lumber company was refusing to deliver supplies, so we ended up opening our own account with the lumber company, firing the contractor, and hiring the subcontractor. We then sued the general contractor, getting service on him just before he ran out of state. Binding arbitration got us a judgment of about 2/3rds, and then we filed a claim against the contractor’s recovery fund for the maximum relief. The guy did file bankruptcy, but wasn’t able to discharge the entire debt, so we got five years of payments. I’d say we lost the amount we paid to our attorney and about 10% of the contract price. It could have gone much worse.

  19. JHDarkLeg says:

    From my experience at work with contracts:
    1) Only pay upfront for material costs. Ensure the contract states that materials must be stored on site and arrive by X date. If the materials don’t arrive at that date they are in breach of contract and you’re only out the material costs, which you go to court to recover.
    2) Clearly spell out in the contract exactly how progress payments will work, ie. foundation complete = X%, supports complete = Y%, top boards complete = Z% etc.
    3) To force them to keep schedule, add liquidated damages for any schedule delay to the contract, such as “for every day over schedule the contractor shall pay/refund X% of the overall cost.
    4) Have the contractor provide a budget estimate, and put a clause in the contract which states “contractor is not authorized to exceed budget estimate without providing documentation of scope change and associated cost increase and receiving signed approval to proceed” this prevents them from changing the price after the fact.

    • Sudonum says:

      As a contractor the only thing I would add is to make sure you get lien releases from the suppliers and any subcontractors who worked on the job prior to making any progress payments.

  20. ovalseven says:

  21. Cooneymike says:

    Your first step is a complaint to your state’s registrar of contractors. If they are registered they have insurance and such you can access and regulatory authority you can get on your side. If they aren’t you have serious investigative capability that can be brought into play and probably criminal sanctions depending on your local state law requirements for licensing. In any state I am aware of this work probably requires a license.

    Next look to small claims court. You don’t mention how much money is involved but all small claims courts have a jurisdictional limit of anything between $2500 and $20,000. Get estimates of what it will take to finish the job to bring to court with you. Most likely the contractor will try to defend themselves by saying they did breach the contract but have incurred 2/3 the costs so they should be allowed to keep that portion. They shouldn’t. They should be able to keep what they have earned less the increased cost you incurr to complete the deck. If you have an estimate to complete the deck from a new contractor at roughly the original price the old contractor will get nothing. Remember to carefully document everything, on paper that you can give to the court including times and dates.

    Include the contractor as a cc on as much correspondance as you can as a means of bringing preasure on them. If they have half a brain they know there are a lot of ways to stonewall you but if they are facing a determined adversary willing to use the agency and the courts they are screwed.

  22. icerabbit says:

    No excuse for the contractor asking >50% up front (I’d say that’s legitimate to buy materials) not being more communicative, not showing up on schedule, etc. etc.

    But, I’m also a bit curious as to the weather circumstances, which can seriously derail timeliness for anything that depends on good weather. We have a couple gardening projects we want to do, but have had the wettest spring I ever recall. It’s all I can do try to mow the grass. 4 days of clouds & rain. One day of sun. Vegetables and plants are suffering from too much water & not enough sun …

    So anyway, I’m willing to give the contractor 1 single benefit of the doubt for weather.

    • kmiles says:

      I posted this above as well – I’m the OP. We had a wet May, but to put it in perspective, 4 of our neighbors on our block had decks built in May, and three homes were built from the ground up and listed for sale in the same time period.

      Also, the initial payment was 1/3, then the 2nd 1/3 to be paid when work actually started.

      • icerabbit says:

        Thanks for the reply.

        It sounds like you did your homework well prior to committing to a contractor and certainly if there was that much active construction during that time in your neighborhood, then something is really amiss. Document everything as much as possible (chronological list, photos, call log, etc and) You will likely have to go to small claims court to get it sorted out and get your money back … because at this point in time, would you really want to get that guy / team to still work on your property? I fear they’d just do substandard work and more nightmares would follow.

        Best of luck getting it sorted.

  23. who? says:

    Call Mike Holmes. He’s your only hope.

    Seriously, contractors will usually require money down on a job like this, but the first chunk of money is to buy materials. The rest of the money is paid out as progress payments as the job is completed. For a small job like this, maybe 1/3 up front, another 1/3 after the foundation is passes inspection, 90% when the job is basically complete, and the rest when you’re totally satisfied.

    If it’s a small enough amount to use small claims court, take him to small claims court. That might get him started. Unfortunately, I think you’re screwed. The guy knows that you can’t get him for fraud if he’s done any work at all. Hence the little holes.

  24. Glaurung_quena says:

    Basically at this point you’re screwed. You may never see the contractor again, and good luck suing them for your money since they can just “go out of business” at the old company, and start up a different company under a different name.

    When you hire a contractor, unless you’re dealing with someone you’ve worked with before and know they are honorable, RULE ONE is to pay only a small amount up front – 10% or thereabouts on contract signing. Then pay only on completion of milestones – say 20% when the foundations are dug and poured, 20% when the framing is complete, and 25% when the deck boards are in. Pay the last 25% installment ONLY when the work is completely finished, they’ve cleaned up all their mess, and you are 100% satisfied.

    Warning signs that you’re hiring the wrong contractor are when they demand money up-front before they’ve done a lick of work, or when they say they need money up front to buy materials. If they are honest and competent, they should have the working capital/credit with the lumber store necessary to buy materials themselves and bill you afterwards.

  25. Rachacha says:

    The OP can file a complaint with the state license board and as well with the local permitting office. In my town, the permit office has the ability to suspend the issuance and approval of all permits. No permits equals no work.

  26. sirwired says:

    Some payment (a deposit of maybe a few hundred) prior to the start of work is not out of the ordinary, but the second draw should not happen until about halfway through. And in any case, a reputable contractor will disclose the draw schedule as part of the contract.

  27. WalterSinister2 says:

    At this point just try to get your money back. The last thing you need is for them to be forced to do it by the BBB or the AG and half-ass the job.

    For future reference. Generally, try to hold back enough money at any given time that you can get someone else to finish the job for that amount if need be. Pay only the materials cost up front, and only when the materials are delivered.

  28. Scoobatz says:

    Sorry to derail (as this does not help the OP), but is there really anything to gain by reporting an issue like this to the BBB or AG? In my mind, I’m picturing they receive thousands of reported problems and have very limited ability to actually do anything.

    Would a contractor (or vendor, local business, etc.) consider this an empty threat or it is really worth pursuing? Just curious.

    • fearuncertaintydoubt says:

      The AG is most definitely not a toothless agency. They typically have a consumer fraud department, where you can file a complaint. The AG will contact the contractor about it and ask for a response. If the guy is honest, he will not want the AG. Write to the local newspapers, tv stations, contact the city where his business is located, find out where he is doing work via permits and let those permit offices know what has happened. Write a letter to your local state congressmen and the ones in the contractor’s district.

      Unfortunately a lot of contractors are bullies. The best way to handle a bully is to show him you’re not backing down.

      I had a situation where I accidentally sent $3500 to a contractor via online payment (entered in the wrong payee in my online). Turns out the guy was in all sorts of trouble already. He tried to stonewall me and keep the money. A lawyer friend advised me to to the above stuff, just make more trouble for him than the money was worth. It wasn’t long before they were in a hurry to give me the money back.

    • kmiles says:

      I think the threat there is that other people will look them up, see the negative reviews, and not use them, so… less business. For a smaller contractor, that could be a huge deal.

  29. Hotscot says:

    If he is a licensed contractor he will have a Surety Bond which you can claim on.

    This is very important and is a great way to put pressure on him.

    Determine his license #, determine his Bond holder, and then make the claim against them.

    • jsweitz says:

      Going after their bond is the proper way to combat this.
      Construction companies have a bonding company to guarantee they will complete the work. Otherwise, the bonding company will bring in someone else, and the original company will lose the ability to get a bond.

      My concern is that a shady company like this might not have a bonding company. I don’t know if state licensure laws require it, so unless you’ve seen paperwork and contacted the bonding company prior to them receiving payment, then you might be out of luck.

  30. Hotscot says:

    If he is a licensed contractor he will have a Surety Bond which you can claim on.

    This is very important and is a great way to put pressure on him.

    Determine his license #, determine his Bond holder, and then make the claim against them.

  31. hmburgers says:

    I just had a deck build, this was the deal:

    1/4th on signing the contract
    1/4th immediately after getting footing inspection
    1/4th the day of lumber delivery
    1/4th immediately after final inspection & occupancy permit

    I got very lucky, had a nice (though befuddled) contractor who would show up when he said he would, no delays between work. Once he started, it finished about 2 weeks later.

    In your position, with 2/3rd down and essentially no work performed, I would call the owner of the company and tell him he’s got 2/3rd of your money and you have no work performed. You need him to either refund 100% of the money within 3 days, or begin work in 3 days with a written schedule giving relative dates–i.e. footings day 1, day 3 framing complete, day 5 decking complete, etc. If he refuses to do either, or gives more of the same, I would tell him that your next stop is small claims court and the state contractor licensing board because you’re 2-1/2 months in with nothing but empty promises from them, they need to keep promises or you will attempt to recover your money by any means necessary.

  32. hmburgers says:

    I just had a deck build, this was the deal:

    1/4th on signing the contract
    1/4th immediately after getting footing inspection
    1/4th the day of lumber delivery
    1/4th immediately after final inspection & occupancy permit

    I got very lucky, had a nice (though befuddled) contractor who would show up when he said he would, no delays between work. Once he started, it finished about 2 weeks later.

    In your position, with 2/3rd down and essentially no work performed, I would call the owner of the company and tell him he’s got 2/3rd of your money and you have no work performed. You need him to either refund 100% of the money within 3 days, or begin work in 3 days with a written schedule giving relative dates–i.e. footings day 1, day 3 framing complete, day 5 decking complete, etc. If he refuses to do either, or gives more of the same, I would tell him that your next stop is small claims court and the state contractor licensing board because you’re 2-1/2 months in with nothing but empty promises from them, they need to keep promises or you will attempt to recover your money by any means necessary.

  33. hmburgers says:

    I just had a deck built, this was the deal:

    1/4th on signing the contract
    1/4th immediately after getting footing inspection
    1/4th the day of lumber delivery
    1/4th immediately after final inspection & occupancy permit

    I got very lucky, had a nice (though befuddled) contractor who would show up when he said he would, no delays between work. Once he started, it finished about 2 weeks later.

    In your position, with 2/3rd down and essentially no work performed, I would call the owner of the company and tell him he’s got 2/3rd of your money and you have no work performed. You need him to either refund 100% of the money within 3 days, or begin work in 3 days with a written schedule giving relative dates–i.e. footings day 1, day 3 framing complete, day 5 decking complete, etc. If he refuses to do either, or gives more of the same, I would tell him that your next stop is small claims court and the state contractor licensing board because you’re 2-1/2 months in with nothing but empty promises from them, they need to keep promises or you will attempt to recover your money by any means necessary.

    • wackydan says:

      I never pay a dime until the job is done. Period.

      The only time I ever paid for materials up front it was direct to Lowes on the request of the contractor and Lowes delivered the shingles.

  34. Velifer says:

    It’s a deck, not a mansion. Money up front tells me the contractor isn’t capitalized enough to be stable and reliable.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      So true. I worked as a contractor for a friend of mine years ago and he worked this way. He had zero money management skills and even my first pay checked bounced. I think it is ok to give a contractor a small deposit as a good faith deposit which tells the contractor that you want him/her to do the work but too much and it’s a warning sign. IMO, contractor’s are the very reason that we begin to distrust businesses in general. They’re the homefront line of defense to help us and if they cannot follow through in a legimate and ethical manner, we never forget. Very few are professional, polite, and give a shit. Every time I see a contractor on my street, I just shake my head and wonder when they’re doing. My current lanw contractor is always one penny from being broke and homeless. His marriage is a shambles, his health is lousy, and he smokes, takes Zantax and drinks beers on top of it. I’ve yet to meet a contractor that lives a healthy, balanced life-style. At least in my area.

  35. Snapdragon says:

    At first glance I could have swore the “e” was an “i” in “Deck”. Still works, I guess.

  36. chiieddy says:

    Did you pay with a check? It’d cost you $20 or so to do a stop payment, but I’m guessing it’d be worth it.

    When I recently had my floors refinished, the contractor didn’t want any payment up front. It did kind of give me a good idea the work would be done and done well. The second hint was him having his 80 year old grandfather in to peer at the work and make them fix any errors.

  37. oldwiz65 says:

    Only option sees to be getting an attorney, fast. The so-called contractor is obviously not a professional. Next time find a real contractor.

  38. Alessar says:

    You should never have given them the 2nd third of the payment when they already violated the terms of the agreement.