My Contractor Ripped Me Off: What Do I Do?
No one purposely hires a bad contractor but it happens all the time. Whether the contractor lies about their credentials, performs unsatisfactory work, or doesn’t show up after you pay a deposit…it spells bad news for you as a facility manager or commercial property owner.
It’s best practice to vet any contractor you consider for your property project. As with any service industry, you have good contractors, bad contractors, and people who aren’t contractors at all.
As an owner/project manager, it’s important for you to take on your due diligence by researching and vetting all of your contractors and vendors.
What to ask your prospective contractor:
- Ask to see a portfolio
- Ask to see their license or letter of Good Standing
- Ask to see their liability insurance
If you do find yourself caught in the middle of a contractor dispute, rest assured that you have recourse as a customer.
Create a Paper Trail
From your first meeting, to when the work is performed, it’s important to create a paper trail. Keep all your emails messages, meeting notes and documents. These can prove useful if there is a dispute.
Try to create a time a timeline and file all the paperwork surrounding the project, including contracts, supply receipts, and canceled checks in a safe place.
In addition to the paperwork, take photographs of the project location and the surrounding property before, during and after the project. The contractor should be taking photos, but you should take it into your own hands to document the state of the project and property. These pictures could help if there is damage or faulty work performed.
Try to Mediate
Some construction contracts include a binding arbitration clause, where parties agree to resolve disputes by arbitration rather than in court. This means that you may have to try one of these options:
- Licensing Agency – If your contractor is licensed (and they should be if you hired them) you can take your complaint to the state or local licensing agency and may be able to help mediate the situation. Most municipalities require contractors to provide a “Contractors Bond” when they register to cover some of these instances.
- Mediation – A litigator will hear the positions of both parties in the dispute. Mediators will help the two sides facilitate a settlement.
- Arbitration – Similar to mediation, arbitration is when a litigator will hear both sides of the dispute and render a decision that is binding.
Go to Court
If mediation and arbitration don’t work, you may have to involve the court system to resolve your dispute. There are terms to consider, from the filing, court and attorney fees to the award limits. Keep in mind that any court will refer to a signed contract for guidance in making a decision, if your contract was not written well, it might be difficult to prove fault.
There are two types of courts that you can consider:
- Small Claims Courts – In small claims court, you can represent yourself in front of a judge in your local jurisdiction. The judge will hear both sides of the dispute and resolve this issue. Keep in mind that small claims court has an award limit based on your area.
- Civil Court – If you are looking for an award amount that is higher than your local small claims court allows, you can go to civil court. If you decide you go to civil court, you can expect to pay more in court fees, and it’s recommended that you hire an attorney to help guide you through the process.
File Complaints and Leave Reviews
One of the best things you can do with your contractor dispute is preventing it from happening again. As long as you are truthful with your reviews, you can leave honest reviews online to warn others from falling into the same situation.
Here are some places online that you can leave reviews:
- Facebook Business Page
- Google Reviews
- Local Directories (Cleveland.com for example)
In addition to leaving reviews on consumer websites, you can also file complaints with websites, companies, and industry organizations. These are more reputable sources that will evaluate the claim and use it to calculate the reputability of the business.
Here are some places where you can file complaints:
- Better Business Bureau
- Contractor State Licensing Board
Investing in a commercial roofing project can be a daunting task. But by being prepared and asking the right questions, you can find the right contractor to deliver high-quality work for a good price.
Choosing West Roofing Systems as a turnkey roofing company will provide you with highly trained teams and award-winning service. Our services are flexible and diverse; we can recoat, repair or replace your facility’s roof so that it lasts decades.
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Author: Rufus West
Rufus West is a commercial roofing expert! You may see him on the West Roofing website and also on the West Roofing social media pages, giving fun facts and tips about the company and roofing industry.
Just like West Roofing System’s roof solutions, he isn’t bothered by water—it simply rolls off of his back!