What to do if You're Dealing With a Difficult/Unreliable Contractor

As home improvement projects grow in size and complexity, the chances increase that there may be some kind of dispute with the contractor you've hired to do the work. San Diego home remodeling contractors face the same kinds of pressures in their profession, e.g. late deliveries, faulty equipment, bad weather, deadlines, etc., that all the rest of us do, and sometimes that can spill over into their attitude toward clients. When you're dealing with contractors and builders on something like major room additions in San Diego, or a large renovation project, and relations become strained for some reason, there are still some things you can do to keep the project moving forward.

Maintain Good Communications

As often as not, the major cause of disputes and misunderstandings with contractors is a lack of communication. When problems arise that the contractor has to deal with, you might not know about it until it escalates into a delay or work stoppage, and causes issues. It's a good idea to try and arrange at the outset of a major project some kind of regular meeting with your contractor, or at least someone working with him/her, so you are kept fully informed of daily developments. This will also provide you with an opportunity for asking any questions you may have, and making sure the project plan is adhered to.

Have a Dispute Plan

Even with good communications, sometimes disputes can still arise, and it will be much easier to handle these if you and your contractor can agree on a way to handle any disputes before work even begins. One of the best ways to do this is to have a neutral individual act as arbitrator when a disagreement comes up. An impartial party can listen to the facts and give an unbiased opinion about how to resolve any issue. The key to making this work though, is that both contractor and home owner must agree beforehand to accept any decision rendered as final.

Formalize Your Complaint

If being courteous, maintaining good communications, and having a dispute plan are all overwhelmed by a major rift between you and your contractor, it may be time to start thinking about protecting yourself against financial loss. First, you can write a letter to your contractor which lists your objections and asks for necessary modifications or improvements. If that doesn't achieve results, you can contact another professional in the field to request an on-site inspection or evaluation of the problem(s), and obtain a written assessment. These documented items can bolster your claim in Small Claims Court, if it should come to that.

Use Leverage

Apart from the threat of taking the issue to Small Claims Court, you do have some other subtle leverage you can use to try and get satisfaction from your difficult contractor. You can threaten to write up a negative, but honest, review of the contractor's poor work habits or whatever else it was that dissatisfied you. This takes the matter to a whole new level, because it is no longer a dispute with a single client - it becomes a threat to the contractor's reputation, and can jeopardize his/her relations with many more potential customers.

Use Leverage

Most contractors involved with San Diego home remodeling and room additions are professional and courteous on the job, but when things start going wrong on a major job, even good people can become difficult and unreliable to deal with. If you're armed with some ideas like these to manage the situation, you'll be much better prepared for that.