Dear Consumer Ed:
I hired a contractor to do some remodeling on my home. I paid for the entire job so that he could purchase the supplies needed. He did most of the work, but will not finish the job. What can I do to get him to complete it?
Consumer Ed says:
You don’t say what kind of service agreement you had with the contractor (verbal or written). If you have a written contract, you have a much clearer legal leg to stand on. However, even if it was a verbal agreement, you may still be able to sue the contractor. We strongly recommend that you consult a private attorney.
Other than suing or threatening to sue, you may also be able to force the contractor’s hand by reporting him to the State Licensing Board for Residential and General Contractors at www.sos.ga.gov/plb or by sending a written complaint to: Professional Licensing Boards Division, 237 Coliseum Drive, Macon, GA 31217-3858. The Board doesn’t oversee all types of complaints about contractors, but it does handle problems with fraud, deceit, gross negligence, repeated or persistent incompetence, or intentional misconduct. If 90 or more days have passed since the contractor has stopped work without giving you a reason why, then you may have a claim that the contractor has “abandoned” the remodeling. The Board can’t force the contractor to finish the work, but it has the power to impose punitive measures that will make it difficult for him to continue working legally, such as probation, license revocation, or requiring restitution of money advanced for supplies and not used to finish the remodeling.
If you report the contractor to the Board, but he still refuses to complete the work, you can file suit to recover your money, plus damages for the additional cost of completing the remodeling. Alternatively, you can sue the contractor to simply recover what you paid him for the unfinished work.
Finally, you can submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov or to the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection at www.consumer.ga.gov or by calling 404-651-8600 or 1-800-869-1123.
For future reference, you should never pay the entirety of the agreed price in advance of having the work done.
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