Dale M. Maas, Attorney at Law
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Can you withhold payments from a contractor who stops work?

It happens more often than most people think: a Louisiana homeowner hires a contractor to remodel his or her home or to fix major issues, the contractor shows up, accepts payment and tears apart the home and, before the contractor completes the job, he or she stops working and demands more payment. If this situation sounds all too familiar to you, you may wonder what you should do. Do you just pay him or her the extra cash for the sake of finishing the project or do you fight the additional charges? Pocket Sense has some advice for you.

It is not uncommon for contractors to stop work when they discover unexpected complications. Unexpected complications are so common that most home remodel advisors suggest accounting for hidden expenses in your home remodel budget. For instance, a contractor may remove all the cabinets in your kitchen only to discover that the walls beneath are riddled with black mold. A roofer may tear apart a section of your roof to find that termites have eaten away at the underlying structure. Many of these issues are issues contactors could not have possibly known about before starting the project, and therefore cannot have calculated into the final estimate.

If a contractor asks you for more money to complete a job with unsavory surprises, it would not be in your best interests to deny him or her the extra amount. If the original contractor does not complete the job, you will have to find and pay someone else to do it, which may be more hassle than it is worth. However, try to avoid paying the contractor the full additional amount until the project is complete.

If the contractor demands more money but does not give you a credible reason for the amount increase, it may be a sign that he or she is in financial trouble. It may also be possible that the contractor underquoted the job because he or she has no prior experience with a project like yours. Whatever the case, your best bet would be to let the contractor go and hire a reputable contractor who has experience with projects like yours. 

This post is for purely educational purposes. It should not be used as legal advice. 

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Dale M. Maas, Attorney at Law
11777 Justice Avenue
Baton Rouge, LA 70816

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