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?