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What are my options if I am not happy with my contractor?

On Behalf of | May 21, 2024 | Firm News

Many individuals and businesses in the Indianapolis area will at some point need a contractor to build a home or commercial building for them or will require significant repairs and improvements to an existing structure.

These deals can cost between thousands and millions of dollars. Furthermore, the person improving their property no doubt expects ongoing personal and financial benefits from the improvements.

On the other hand, if the work is done poorly or abandoned altogether, it can damage an existing structure, reduce the value of a person’s real estate and hurt an Indiana business’s opportunities.

Furthermore, dealing with a construction problem also takes a lot of time and emotional capital.

Careful preparation is the single best way to prevent construction disputes.

One way to prepare is for an owner to verify that a contractor has a solid reputation for doing good work in a timely fashion. They also should try to confirm that the contractor is in solid financial condition. In the long run, it is not always best to go with the lowest price.

Aside from carefully shopping around for a contractor, an Indiana resident should also make sure that any contract is both clear and fair to them. Especially in larger projects, contracts do not have to be a take-it-or leave-it proposition.  It is OK to negotiate.

Also, an owner should make sure they have appropriate assurance that a contractor will do what they promise. They can ask for a surety bond and warranties as well as for proof of the contractor’s insurance coverage.

Sometimes construction disputes happen even after careful preparation

Even with careful preparation, sometimes the relationship with a contractor will deteriorate because of defects, delays or disagreements about the project.

How an owner can best respond in these situations will depend on the circumstances. However, here are some general tips:

  • The contract will often spell out what happens in the event of a minor dispute. The owner should follow that process. Sometimes, a contract may require an owner to try this process before taking legal action.
  • Even without a formal dispute resolution, it often pays off for an owner to negotiate with the contractor.
  • The owner may be able to complain to an administrative agency or other organization.
  • While the owner may decide to withhold payment, they should be aware that a contractor might respond by filing a mechanic’s lien against their property or initiating legal action to collect payment. Owners should know their rights and responsibilities before using this option.
  • The owner may be able to make a claim against the contractor’s warranty, insurance policy or construction bond.
  • The owner may need to sue the contractor in court.

Again, it is important for owners stuck in a contract dispute to understand their alternatives.

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