What to Do if a Contractor/ Builder Walks Off the Job?

     By Breakfield & Associates, Attorneys

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Everyday in Georgia a builder and a homeowner have a dispute about a project and sometime those disputes result in litigation.

Everyday in Georgia a builder and a homeowner have a dispute about a project and sometime those disputes result in litigation. If the contractor or builder has already walked off the job, you should consider the following:

1. Take pictures and lots of them, and/ or video the entire project. Clearly, you want to document what work was or was not performed and when.

2. Immediately send a letter outlining events leading up to the walk-off and then all remaining issues via certified mail return-receipt (or overnight with signature via FEDEX, UPS or the post office) to any and all addresses for the contractor or builder. This letter should give reasonable and firm deadlines for action to be taken. Demand not only compliance with the construction agreement, but demand immediate communication. For example:

“Please contact me within 24 hours of the receipt of this letter. Further, please be back on the job site within 48 hours and continue the agreed upon work. If you do not comply with these requests, I will be forced to expend additional sums to finish your work and then pursue action through the courts against you for this breach.”

3. If you have not received a response, and have proof that the letter was received, you should promptly decide what you are going to do. Are you going to resend another letter, but with a harsher tone, or are you going to assume the builder is gone and go get estimates to have the remaining work done.

4. If you get estimates, you should get three estimates for completing the remaining work. Try to avoid any additional or extra work being included in these estimates as it may seem that you are trying to get the first contractor to unfairly pay for extras. If you need extras, consider separate estimates. Get the repairing contractor to agree to testify should this matter go to court and to cooperate in case preparation.

5. Try to get the work finished within a reasonable time. The longer you sit on your hands the more likely damage is going to occur to the job site.

6. Always consider the legal costs and time investment associated with pursuing a bad contractor in court.

7. If the cost to repair is under $15,000.00, you may want to consider filing the action in magistrate court (small claims court). In magistrate court, it is a good idea to have a lawyer, but not always affordable due to the amount at stake.

8. If the amount is over $15,000.00, you will have to file in state or superior court and it is recommended that you almost always have a lawyer.

9. Keep your documents in a safe place.

10. Even if you do not end up hiring an attorney, you should at least meet with one that offers free consultations in person or over the phone and see what they think. Even if you do not hire the lawyer, you might learn something.

This article should not be considered nor relied upon as legal advice since it is only intended for general overview and informational purposes. Please consult with an attorney on your specific situation in order to determine an appropriate legal course of action.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John G. Breakfield of Breakfield & Dean, LLC
About the author: John Breakfield is an attorney with Breakfield & Dean, LLC in Gainesville, Georgia and handles disputes regarding builders/ contractors/ subcontractors and home/ property owners. The law office can assist clients through out Georgia including: Hall County (Gainesville, Oakwood, Flowery Branch), White County (Cleveland), Lumpkin County (Dahlonega), Gwinnett County (Buford, Sugar Hill, Lawrenceville), Dawson County (Dawsonville), Habersham County (Demorest, Cornelia), and all of Northeast Georgia.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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