Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Suing a Contractor for Unfinished Work

Working with contractor can often be frustrating, especially if disputes occur in the middle of a project. For example, what happens if the contractor leaves his or her work unfinished? Well, the easiest option is to talk to the contractor to see what's going on. But, if that doesn't resolve the issue, then it may be time to pursue a legal action against the contractor.

Read Before You Act

Generally speaking, when a contractor signs an agreement for a certain job, it includes finishing the work. But, "finishing the work" may mean something different to the contractor. 

Now you're upset that the project is unfinished, and you're ready to call up the contractor to give him or her a piece of your mind. But, before doing that, you decide to read the agreement and as it turns out, the details you have in mind aren't part of the contract. So, before accusing the contractor of leaving unfinished work, it's important to read the agreement you signed with him or her because that part of the job may not have actually been included.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

It's also important to read the contract before filing a lawsuit against a contractor for unfinished work because it's possible that your contract requires you to go through some kind of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), such as arbitration or mediation.

If the work is truly unfinished (as per the terms in the contract) and there is no clause requiring ADR, then you may want to consider filing a lawsuit against the contractor. While it's unlikely that you'll want that contractor to finish the work, you may be able to get some of your money back and use that to hire another contractor to finish the work.

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