I hired a contractor for a fairly large reno project. Soon after the work started, I asked for the project to be delayed due to a family emergency. The family emergency required a short but significant financial obligation from me so I requested that my deposit be refunded, minus the 10% down payment and cost of materials and services to that date. Contractor kept saying I was cancelling the project and that he would not be refunding any part of my deposit. As the contractor was not willing to agree to my request, I advised him that I would like the work to continue. At this point the contractor demanded another large payment due to me "changing the scope of the job" and because he had to "pay two tradespeople to sit at home for a week".
I don't believe that asking for a delay and then rescinding that request results in a "change in the scope of the job" I feel like the contractor is holding my job ransom until I agree to pay his "extra charges". What are my options at this point?
Thanks in advance for all replies.
If the contractor had organized materials and sub trades in for the project. Then it was cancelled/delayed. Costing him his time/livilyhood and money due to cancellation. Then yes I would say a service fee for changing the scope.
When you are entering a contract with someone for completing work, you need to understand that the timeline you are agreeing to is their new pay period and their livilyhood. Money for their family. If you back out, regardless of reasons. You've left them high and dry for their pay period.
Just a way to look at it. At the end of the day noth parties need to be resonable.
I am sorry to hear about your family emergency. Hopefully everything worked out. If your contract stipulates that the work needs to be done on a certain date, within a fixed period and defined completion date than the contractor has grounds not to refund your deposit. In addition they may also seek extra monies for materials as well as work that was completed. Now I completely understand your circumstances and life sometimes get in the way of things. You contractor should be more compassionate and flexible however with some specialized trades, projects timelines are everything. For example if we book a house framing crew to start on a fixed date and the homeowner is not ready as per our agreement, their consequences can be quite severe because framing crews book up an entire season by the spring and still require 4-8 weeks of notice for any changes. It seems that you've lost trust in your contractor/company and I wouldn't advance them any more money because you'll always have your doubts and I guarantee you that you'll find someone better to service your short & long-term needs
Chief General Contractor / Principal
This is Todd from Hasaca Construction in Ottawa. We use a very detailed 12 page contract that spells out payment schedules and cancellation of work penalties, etc. Having a detailed contract is essential to protect both contractor and client. When circumstances change we believe that it is in the best interests of everyone to work together for a positive resolution that works for both. Is there a cancellation clause in the contract? In our case, we would try to continue with the work to use up the deposit and 10% which would be fair to everyone. The client would have received work and services for the amount paid and we would not be at a loss for loss of work. It really comes down to contract law and if the contract is poorly written it will not be an easy positive outcome for you. If the workers are fixed employees you may want to ask for proof of wages paid to them to verify the expense by the contractor.
Thank you for your replies and your perspective. I just wanted to clarify a few things:
1. the contract was one page and did not outline any kind of remedy to the contractor should the customer request a delay (although there was wording that stated the contractor could not be held liable for any delays on his part).
2.I advised the contractor to keep the original 10% down payment and cost for any services and materials used to that date and advised that once my family situation was resolved, I would be asking for the job to be continued.
3. There were never any specific start or end dates and no real estimate as to how long the job would take.
4. The job is a basement reno so not a lot of framing required. Plus, the contractor uses his own tradespeople...not sub-contractors.
5. The contractor and I have been exchanging emails for the past three weeks regarding this issue. Although I reply to him on the same day or at least within 24 hours, it takes him 2-3 business days to reply to me. This makes me feel that he is the one creating the delay now.
I asked the contractor for some compassion and he advised that he has to treat all customers exactly the same. I feel like he is using this situation to get more money from me. He refused to refund any of my deposit back and is now refusing to continue the work until I agree to his demand for "extra charges". I just feel so powerless.
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