What to do when a bad contractor does poor work (to sue or not?)

When bad contractors do poor work, there are few options for unhappy homeowners to deal and prevent poor workmanship and future shoddy work.

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George Nicola

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When it comes to contractors doing inadequate work, it’s important to make sure you’re comfortable with the steps you take, such as to sue a contractor or file a claim.

Many contractors get into this situation when they fail to deliver what is promised in the contract or do not finish the job. Hence, it’s essential to understand how to approach these situations so that they do not get worse.

This article will explain what steps should be taken when dealing with a contractor who does poor quality work and how these steps can help prevent future problems from occurring again.

Nothing in this article substitutes legal advice and can’t be taken seriously. The text provided in this post is for informational purpose and from our own experience. 

Common Problems of Hiring a Bad Contractor

It can be hard to detect when a general contractor doesn’t do a good job. There are many reasons why this happens:

what to do when contractor does poor work
What to do when contractor does poor work by TALLBOX

Did you know poor workmanship is the most common problem most homeowners encounter?

You can go and read our other article How To Get Revenge and deal with a bad contractor for these cases where nothing else can be done and you may have to fire the contractor.

  • Contractors may not have experience with the project you hired them for. Therefore, they may not understand what is expected of them.
  • They may not be familiar with your house or property so they will do everything at their own pace. As a result, there may be delays in getting your home completed within the specified period.

Some other issues include:

  • Cheap products or materials
  • Shoddy craftsmanship
  • Timeline delays
  • Unanticipated expenses
  • Unfinished or inadequate work and not completed to your satisfaction
  • Contractor’s surety bonds aren’t in order or missing entirely

Did you know that in the context of construction surety bond is a formal agreement between three parties that guarantees the conclusion of the performed work that has been agreed upon.

It involves three parties: the provider (the principal), the client (the organization that needs the bond), and the insurer (the entity providing the bond).

The surety bond guarantees that the contractor has the resources necessary to complete the project and that the obligee will be economically solvent in the case of a breach of contract.

The firm’s performance and adherence to applicable laws are also guaranteed by bond policy from their insurance.

As a result, homeowners often feel a great deal of stress and displeasure, as well as the frustration and costs associated with resolving these problems. For example, incorrect electrical or plumbing installation and poor quality craftsmanship could seriously affect you.

Subpar work is problematic due to the financial and psychological costs it imposes on you. The disappointment and annoyance that can result from not getting what you paid for can be extreme. Additionally, landlords can be left with an unfinished project or one that falls short of their expectations.

Hence, it’s best to be proactive when selecting a general contractor to prevent these problems. To achieve this, thoroughly investigate and get their credentials, check their references, and establish clear guidelines to get the project done.

To ensure the project is completed to standards, constantly monitoring their actions is vital. By taking the proper precautions, property owners have a higher chance of reducing the likelihood of improper construction.

How to Recognize Poor Contractor Work

It might be challenging to tell when their work is subpar, especially if you are unfamiliar with the particular skill or profession. However, there are some universal tips to help you know the ins and outs of a lousy contractor:

Incorrect installation or repair: When the general contractor installs or repairs anything poorly, it is one of the most obvious signs of unsatisfactory work. Inadequately installed electrical wiring, leaking pipes, and uneven floors are a few examples of this.

Unacceptable work: Many industries have particular standards and regulations that contractors must adhere to. If your subcontractor isn’t aware of these standards, it makes them unfit for the job. For instance, utilizing cheap materials or failing to comply with the required building codes are examples of substandard work in the construction sector.

Unfinished Tasks: If a contractor fails to complete the assigned work, it should raise a red flag. For instance, they fail to finish a painting project, leave trash on the property, or leave contaminated sites.

Unresponsiveness or unprofessional conduct: Another sign to look out for is if they are unresponsive to your queries or concerns or exhibit inappropriate behavior or communication. It is best to look for someone that guarantees high-quality work.

Missed deadlines or delays: If a contractor misses a deadline or keeps delaying a project, they are not properly managing their time or resources, so you can consider sending a demand letter.

It’s crucial to remember that shoddy work doesn’t always indicate that the sub-contractor is doing it on purpose.

Sometimes they could lack the necessary skills, resources, or tools to carry out the task effectively.

To guarantee the work is done correctly, it is crucial to address the problem and find a solution, regardless of the cause.

Common Issues That Indicate Faulty Work

Incompetent work can manifest in various ways, from shoddy craftsmanship and errors to missed deadlines and a lack of attention to detail. Hence, recognizing and addressing these issues is crucial for improving performance and maintaining standard work.

Here are some common issues that come with unskilled labour:

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  • Use of Poor Quality Materials – A contractor who uses substandard materials can lead to unsatisfactory outcomes within a specific deadline or budget. Make sure to refer back to the contract and check what is mentioned there in the materials paragraph.
  • Poor Quality Workmanship – If the general contractor does not have the proper equipment, it may mean that they do not have access to skilled labour or resources needed for the job.
  • Poor Communication – A good contractor with poor communication skills can’t simply exist. Good ones always have good client management skills. Miscommunication can cause delays or even lead to entirely cancelled projects in case of any problems.
  • Management of Subcontractors – If you are hiring subcontractors, ensure they are reputable, have good references, and are professionals who follow through on promises made during contracts.
  • Contractor’s dissatisfaction – this is a none-written law, when a client is too picky or they aren’t following the design project it may be a reason for their dissatisfaction, a factor that can cause further problems into the project.

If you are unhappy and don’t know what to do when a contractor does bad work, it is tempting to not pay them. If the question “Can I sue my contractor for bad work” is brewing by the second, hold on for a second and think!

 The truth is if you decide to act upon your own decisions, not paying them may backfire.

The best course of action is to talk with them about the issues. Check your contracts and and try to resolve the issues in a civil manner. If you feel that this is not something you can handle, contact a lawyers who deals with construction law.

Check the Contract

A clear understanding of contract terms and expectations is critical to successful project completion.

Neglecting to review the contract can lead to disputes and unsatisfactory work.

Review the contract thoroughly to ensure all parties are on the same page. Here are some tips every homeowner should follow:

  • Whether it’s time or materials, ensure you know exactly what is included in your price and what isn’t.
  • Ask questions about any work that isn’t specified in the contract. For example, “What would happen if I needed more money?” or “What if something goes wrong?”
  • Read every page carefully for missing clauses and ask questions before signing anything—you don’t want to be surprised by unexpected charges later on!
  • Get in touch with an experienced construction attorney who knows the ins of construction law to verify your contract.
  • A big red flag is if a health and safety standards section is missing from the contract.
  • Do they have a section with recovery fund (return-receipt letter)

Communicating With the Contractor

When dealing with unsatisfactory work, communication is vital. The first step is approaching the contractor upfront and having a calm, professional conversation.

You must let the contractor know about the problems.

As a result, it’s crucial to approach the conversation with a solution-focused mindset rather than a blame-based one. Always have something in writing after each major step in the project.

In this post we’ve explained how several factors can affect the cost of a renovation project

Remember, there’s a chance that the contractor could not be aware of the issue or might not have intended to perform sloppy work.

As a result, it’s crucial to approach the conversation with a solution-focused mindset rather than a blame-based one. Always have something in writing after each major step in the project.

Ensure you have proof of the issue is essential

If you’re unsure what specific problem is the root cause for everything, it may be difficult for them to fix it in the first place. It’s crucial to be explicit and show samples of incompetent work when addressing the issues.

home staging on a budget
Home Staging On a Budget by TALLBOX

Give precise information about what needs to be changed or improved rather than making generalizations.

Point out particular places that require repainting, such as “the paint on the living room walls is uneven, and there are multiple drips on the ceiling”, rather than stating that “the paint job is bad.”

Additionally, there are different methods to handle complaints depending on the company you have hired. Some contractors have surety bond policies to protect against client disputes. In such cases, if you have strong evidence, such as photos of inadequate work, it can work in your favor.

If you know or believe that a contractor has cheated you, take action immediately. What you need to accomplish, and in what order, is specified.

The first thing to do is to get in touch with them and ask why. Then, consider taking legal action if you can’t settle and reach a mutually acceptable agreement.

Depending on the specifics of the incident, you may first need to file a complaint against the contractor with the appropriate national or regional regulatory body.

There’s also the option of cancelling the contract on the grounds of the contractor’s breach of the agreement.

Remember, always keep records of all expenditures and communication between you and the company working on your construction makeover!

Be polite and respectful when discussing the issue with your contractor

Your tone should reflect that you care about the contractor’s business. It’s also crucial that you don’t make any threats or accusations about why this issue happened or who caused it.

Set clear expectations for what needs to be done to fix the issue. This means defining a deadline for when the task must be finished and what the intended result should be.

Politely explain that you are spending a considerable amount on the renovation, and be specific about what you want them to do.

Rather than using vague language like “make sure everything looks good”, it’s better to say, “please fix this leaky faucet as soon as possible”.

In this article we looked into 5 virtual staging makeover tips for your home if you are selling it.

When describing problems and establishing expectations, it’s crucial to be precise, concise, and professional.

By implementing these suggestions, you can guarantee that the issue is fixed and that the result is as desired. Avoid being aggressive or accusatory. Instead, try using humour.

It is a good idea to ask questions if something isn’t making sense or missing from a proposal.

Talk to Your Contractor: Strategies for Holding the Contractor Accountable

How to confront a contractor about poor work - Disputes and Complaints

If you are unhappy with contractor’s work, it might be tempting to take legal action or file a lawsuit immediately, but the best course of action is to talk with your contractor about the issue.

This can be done by emailing or calling them and asking for a refund or credit for work that was done poorly.

If you have the contract, thoroughly read the section that explains how disputes are handled. If you don’t have a written contract, review local laws on contract agreements and ensure that they are followed during construction projects.

Strategies for Holding the Contractor Accountable

  • One option is to document the issues and present the contractor with a written list of all detected faults. This can aid in effectively communicating the concerns and provide the contractor with a thorough idea of what needs to be corrected.
  • A second option is to employ a professional inspector to examine the job and offer a written report of any problems. This can be used as proof if legal action is required against the contractor.
  • Involving their professional association or licensing board might also be helpful. They may be able to mediate the issue and guarantee that the contractor is held accountable for their subpar performance.

Contractors Sign In and Out Book

Require a Sign In/Out Book One simple strategy to hold contractors accountable is to have them and any visitors sign in and out each day.

Before work begins, inform the general contractor that a sign in/out book will be provided and required for use. Specify not just contractors but also any sub-contractors, suppliers, inspectors etc must sign upon entering and exiting the work site.

The best practice is to locate the book in plain sight by the entrance to the property. Also designate someone on-site daily to ensure compliance. Having all project players manually enter basic info like name, company, time in/out, and purpose helps keep an official record of who has accessed the site and when.

The sign in process is quick, simple oversight that reinforces expectations.

Reviewing the book also helps spot potential issues – are crews showing up late or leaving very early each day?

  • Is excessive time elapsing between certain tasks and inspections?

This allows you to follow-up promptly vs finding out too late that agreed upon timelines haven’t been upheld.

If the sign in/out book reveals excessive delays between key tasks, milestones or inspections, take proactive steps:

The main and first thing is to always present issues to contractor in writing – Send formal correspondence like an email that highlights the specific activities where delays persist. Refer to schedule dates and contract terms not being met.

  • Conduct progress review meeting – If lags continue, require the general contractor to attend a project review meeting on-site. Compare progress to plan and discuss resources needed to accelerate work.
  • Send warning notice if no improvement – If meetings yield no improvement after another week, send written warning that you expect tasks to pickup immediately per the contract and recovery plan. State continued deficiencies may necessitate terminating contract if not cured in next 5 business days.
  • Call for corrective plan – Request the contractor provide a written recovery plan of corrective actions within 5 business days that will remedy delays and regain adherence to original timeline.


Options for Getting the Work Redone or Repaired

Why the contractor did a bad job? by TALLBOX

If you’re not happy with the remodel, several options are available.

  • You can invite the contractor to redo or repair the work at their own cost. It might mean having them start from scratch. This is often the most straightforward solution, but it may not always be possible if the contractor is uncooperative or unwilling to make repairs.

If the contractor is unwilling to fix the issues:

  • In general, construction projects are a chain of events. One thing is done after another, and the order can’t be swapped. If you are on a deadline or the next contractor is waiting to get started, consider hiring another contractor to redo the work. It can be costly, but it may be necessary to ensure that the work is done correctly.

If they are willing to fix the issues:

  • The important thing is that they finish it in as good a condition as possible.
  • In some cases, you may be able to negotiate a partial refund or compensation if a contractor does shoddy work. This can help offset hiring another contractor to redo the work.
  • You could get your money back depending on how much was spent on materials during construction, installation etc. Hence, It’s best if both parties agree on how much each is entitled to by law before proceeding further so this doesn’t come up later when negotiating final payment terms.

Escalate to a Complaint if Talking Does Not Work

It is definitely worth hiring an attorney or filing a bond claim against the contractor if you are still unsatisfied.

However, if this does not work, consider firing your contractor or taking your complaint further by contacting Trading Standards. They can help identify any potential breaches of regulations or standards in a building project.

Firing your contractor boils down to proper documentation. It is necessary to gather evidence of a breach of contracts committed by them.

Although it can be challenging to establish a breach of contract, having proper documentation, such as saved records and photographs, can aid in proving your case.

If you don’t have the budget to hire an attorney to file a full-fledged case, another option would be to file a complaint in small claims court.

For instance, if your contract lacks a provision for arbitration or mediation resolution, it’s suggested to bring the matter to a small claims court for resolution.

This can be a cost-effective and efficient option for resolving disputes, as it typically involves less formal procedures and lower filing fees compared to traditional court proceedings.

Preventing Future Issues

Following are some guidelines for picking a trustworthy contractor and including specific terms and conditions in the contract to safeguard yourself:

Clarify your expectations: The contractor should receive a clear explanation of your goals and expectations for the job.

Periodically review the work: Plan frequent meetings to inspect the work and ensure it adheres to your requirements.

Record any problems: Any problems or worries that arise during the job should be noted and discussed as soon as possible.

3rd party payments: Often the main company hires sub-contractors when they lack staff or skills. Make sure to pay subcontractors always on time if their job is done correctly.

It is a good idea to have a clause in the contract for withholding payment for poor work. You may be able to withhold payment if you have proof that materials or services were defective or incomplete.

Withholding payment for poor work

TLDR: Should you refuse to pay a contractor for bad work?

Do not straight away refuse payment, first address problems constructively, seek reasonable remedies, but get legal advice before refusing or withholding payment. With good faith efforts, often a fair resolution can be reached between both parties.

For example, if you hire a contractor to remodel your kitchen. The work is shoddy – crooked cabinets, paint splatters, damaged countertops. You want to refuse payment out of frustration.

Before withholding payment, review the contract and document problems. Write to the contractor citing unsatisfactory work per the agreed upon terms. Request remedies like fixing issues at no cost or a partial refund. As a general rule, withholding 10-15% of the total contract price is common for minor issues until they are rectified.

If the contractor refuses, consult a lawyer. You may have grounds to withhold payment, but the contractor could also place a lien on your home. Legal guidance can help determine next steps while minimizing financial risks.

Being upfront about quality issues yet willing to compromise is key. With documentation and patience, an ethical contractor will hopefully make things right without pay refusal. If not, legal counsel on payment disputes can protect you from further loss.

Withholding payment for poor work do's and dont's

If you are considering withholding payment from a contractor or subcontractor, it is important to understand the circumstances under which you can legally do so.

Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind:


  • Check the contract for provisions allowing you to withhold payment under certain conditions, such as for defective or incomplete work.
  • Only withhold payment if you have a legitimate, well-documented reason, such as failure to meet timelines or quality standards per the contract.
  • Seek legal counsel if unsure whether you can legally withhold payment to avoid potential liability.
  • Provide written notice referring to the contract clause before withholding payment. Give them a chance to rectify issues.
  • Be reasonable about the amount withheld – cover only costs related to remedying poor work.


  • Withhold payment without a contractual basis or as retaliation. This could lead to legal action.
  • Withhold the entire payment for minor contractual breaches. Be proportional.
  • Fire the contractor then withhold final payment. Payment must still be made per the contract.
  • Withhold payment without proper documentation showing cause. You need evidence of deficiency.
  • Fail to communicate with the contractor in writing on reasons for withholding and allowing recourse.

The key is having clear contractual grounds for withholding, providing notice, and being fair and reasonable. Withholding payment should aim to remedy project issues, not punish

If contractor failed inspection who pays

When a contractor fails an inspection, the responsibility for the fees and corrective actions depends on the terms of the contract and the specific circumstances.

Here are some general guidelines:

  1. Responsibility for failed inspection fees: If the contractor’s work is the reason for the failed inspection, they may be responsible for the fees associated with the re-inspection. However, this depends on the terms of the contract and local regulations.
  2. Liability for code violations: If the contractor’s work results in code violations, they may be held liable for correcting the violations and any associated costs. This can include fines, penalties, and the cost of bringing the work up to code.
  3. Permit-related issues: If the contractor failed to obtain the necessary permits for the work, they may be responsible for any fines or penalties associated with the lack of permits. Additionally, they may be required to obtain the proper permits and ensure the work is in compliance with local regulations.
  4. Cost of corrective actions: If the contractor’s work fails inspection due to their errors or negligence, they may be responsible for the cost of correcting the issues. This can include the cost of materials, labor, and any additional inspections required to ensure the work is up to code

Contractors are responsible for covering the costs and performing corrective actions if their work fails inspection. If passing inspections is a specified term in the contract, the contractor will be liable to pay for redoing or amending any substandard work until it is up to code.

That is why it is crucial for homeowners to thoroughly review the contract language and consult a legal professional to comprehend their rights.

This ensures homeowners understand the contractor’s obligations to rectify flawed work at their own expense in the event of a failed inspection.

How to Make the Contract's Terms and Conditions Crystal Clear

Describe the work scope: Clearly state the tasks to be completed and the terms of the contract.

Specify a timeline: Indicate the specified number of days for the task and any other due dates that must be met.

Contingencies: Make plans for what will happen if the task is not completed as agreed upon or on schedule.

Payment terms in full: Indicate precisely how and when the contractor will be paid.

Taking precautions to safeguard yourself and your project against amateur work can help ensure that you have a friendly working relationship with your contractor.

Remember that having everything in writing is essential for ensuring that the work is done as intended.

If you are Unhappy with contractors work - complain about the quality

You have the right to complain if a service you paid for is of poor quality. Provide the contractor with suggestions on improving their work if their performance falls short.

You could draft an email or a letter outlining what needs to be improved and why you believe the experience was not as expected. Additionally, consider contacting your neighborhood Better Business Bureau (BBB) organization so they can look into any complaints about contractors there.

Tips for Finding a Reputable Contractor

The easiest way to avoid problems with unprofessional work is to hire a reliable and licensed contractor. If you haven’t hired a contractor yet, you can use the following advice for finding a repeatable contractor who will complete great work and stand behind it.

Tips for Finding a Reputable Contractor by TALLBOX

Verify their qualifications: Verify the insurance and license status. To confirm that the company’s license is valid and up to date, contact the licensing authority in your state. Request evidence of worker’s compensation and liability insurance.

Obtain references: Request and follow up on references from previous clients. Speak with them and find out how they felt about the contractor. Pay close attention to whether the contractor satisfied them by completing the task on schedule and within the allotted budget.

Look at internet reviews: Search for the company’s internet reviews on websites like Yelp, Google, and the Better Business Bureau. Pay close attention to good and bad reviews, and scan the feedback for trends.

Check for recognition and certificates: Respectable contractors frequently have honours or certifications from reputable organizations.

Obtain several quotations: Gather estimates from multiple contractors before finalizing one.

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You can avoid a lot of future hassles by taking the time to narrow down a reliable contractor.

Hence it’s best not to cut corners.

Remember that choosing the cheapest option isn’t always the wisest choice.

A little extra expense may help you choose someone with fantastic references who delivers high quality work.

How to Properly Oversee and Inspect the Work Throughout the Project

Supervision and inspection of the work throughout the project are one of the most crucial elements to avoid mediocre work from contractors. This entails participating fully in the procedure and being attentive to every nook and cranny. Observing and inspecting the work adequately requires the following advice:

  • Know the extent of the task before the project starts, and be sure you are fully aware of the work that must be done. This covers the specific duties that the contractor will carry out, the supplies and tools that will be employed, and the deadline for completion.
  • Clear project milestones should be established that the contractor is aware of. This will make it easier for you to monitor the job’s progress and ensure the contractor stays on schedule.
  • Regularly stopping by the job site is vital for maintaining control over the project. By doing so, you will be able to monitor the progress of the work and spot any early problems or concerns.
  • Check the work as it is being completed to ensure it fulfils the requirements outlined in the contract. Check quality, accuracy, and compliance with building codes and regulations.
  • Engage in dialogue with the contractor and keep the lines of communication open with them. As issues or concerns develop, ask questions, comment, and address them.
  • Keep thorough records of the work that has been completed, including any written documents, photos, and correspondence with the contractor. It can be useful In the event of a dispute or complaint.

Recap of the Steps to Take When a Contractor Does Poor Work

When your contractor does sub-par work, one of the first things is to admit that you have a problem. You should be aware of the issues that indicate the work is sub-par, such as the use of poor quality materials or poor craftsmanship.

Check the contract thoroughly and clearly communicate that the work hasn’t been completed according to the specified terms and conditions.

You should have an understanding of how to handle disputes and have options in place for holding the contractor accountable. However, if the contractor fails to give you a satisfactory response and is unwilling to fix the issues, you can escalate your concerns and file a case or a complaint in claims court.

Key Takeaway: You must also have a clear plan to prevent similar issues from occurring again. Do your homework, so you hire the right contractor. Clearly set your expectations by discussing the terms and conditions of the contract. Also, don’t forget to review their work periodically and communicate your concerns.

Can You fire my contractor for delays?

While you may technically be able to fire for delays, exercise caution and explore alternatives first. Smart documentation also provides critical protection if the contractor later sues or puts a lien on your home.

  1. Open up a dialogue. Speak to the contractor to understand the reasons for the delay. There may be reasonable explanations like permit issues, weather delays, or materials shortages. See if together you can come up with a plan to get things back on track.
  2. Review your contract language closely. Many contracts contain clauses that allow the homeowner to terminate the contract if there are substantial delays without reasonable cause. There may be provisions about providing written notice before terminating.
  3. Determine if delays warrant termination. Minor delays of a week or two may not justify termination unless the project completion date has been severely impacted. Assess the severity and impact of the delays.
  4. Consider providing a warning. If delays continue with no good explanation, provide formal written notice that you expect agreed upon timelines to be met per the contract. Detail the delays and set a deadline for when you expect work to be completed.
  5. Send proper notifications per your contract. Before terminating, provide any required written notices detailing the delays and set a deadline for curing them. Show you acted in good faith to resolve issues first.
  6. Investigate reasons for delay. Delays caused by factors truly outside the contractor’s reasonable control may not be grounds for termination in your area. If delays result from labor shortages, material delivery issues, or permit problems, firing could open you up to legal liability.
  7. Hire another contractor. If project delays are severe with no resolution in sight, you may need to consider hiring another firm to finish the work. Be clear this is happening due to non-performance on agreed upon timelines.
  8. Consult an attorney. Because terminating a contract is legally complex, meet with an attorney to review your situation and understand your rights/exposures. The few thousand in legal fees could save you much headache and money later.
  9. Seek mediation first. If contractor disputes there were non-excusable delays, suggest mediation. It’s faster, cheaper and may yield a reasonable compromise vs. lengthy litigation.
  10. Sue for breach of contract. As a last resort if delays are egregious and unacceptable, you may need to end the contract and sue the firm for not meeting the agreed upon terms. Consult an attorney on best approach.

How to find what is causing the contractor delays?

Document your findings thoroughly as they may become useful if formal dispute resolution occurs down the line. The most important thing is to stay calm, gather information, and give the contractor a chance to remedy if the delays are reasonably outside their control. To mitigate the delays, you first need to find the reasons why the construction project is delayed.

There are a few key things you can do to determine the root causes of contractor delays:

  1. Ask questions and listen. Have an open and constructive conversation with your contractor. There may be issues like supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, or permit delays that are outside of their control. Seek to understand rather than assign automatic blame.
  2. Review project documentation. Look at the project schedule, milestones, inspection reports, change orders, and daily construction logs. Identify when delays began surfacing and what activities have been impacted. Trace back to try to isolate the issues.
  3. Conduct a site inspection. Do a walkthrough of the job site and visually inspect progress. Check if materials and crews are on site. See if there are obvious issues that are hindering productivity.
  4. Consult subcontractors/suppliers. Reach out to key subs and suppliers on the project to learn if they have been impacted by any delays from the general contractor or issues further upstream.
  5. Consider bringing in an independent construction expert. They can often diagnose issues quickly and provide an unbiased perspective. They tend to focus on progress itself rather than finger pointing.

What are the signs of contractor delays?

More than ten days of timeline deviations, lack of progress, frequent changes in on-site personnel or sub-contractors, inconsistent quality, poor communication, no-shows, and failed permit inspections.

If more than one or a combination of these issues are present, it’s time to start asking pointed questions about the causes of the contractor delays, the contractor’s plan to get the project back on track, and how they will prevent further delays. Keeping a record of these observations can also be helpful if disputes arise or if the homeowner needs to consider legal action.

  1. Timeline deviations: Compare the actual progress to the original project schedule. If tasks are consistently taking longer than planned or milestones are being missed, it’s a clear sign that the project is falling behind.
  2. Lack of progress: If there are periods where little to no work is being done on the site, this could indicate issues with resource availability, planning, or coordination among trades.
  3. Frequent changes in on-site personnel: If the construction team seems to change frequently, it could suggest problems with labor availability, management, or the contractor’s financial stability.
  4. Inconsistent quality: If the quality of the work varies significantly between different areas or stages of the project, it might point to rushed work, inadequate supervision, or subpar craftsmanship.
  5. Poor communication: If the contractor or project manager is not providing regular, clear updates or is difficult to get in touch with, this lack of communication can be a red flag.
  6. Ambiguous or changing plans: If there seems to be confusion about the design, specifications, or scope of work, it could indicate poor planning or inadequate project management.
  7. Material shortages or delays: If work is held up due to missing materials or supplies, it suggests issues with procurement planning or cash flow.
  8. Subcontractor no-shows: If scheduled subcontractors fail to arrive on site as planned, it could be a sign of poor scheduling, communication breakdowns, or financial issues.
  9. Unusual site conditions: Poor housekeeping, unsafe practices, or apparent damage to completed work can all be indicators of underlying management issues.
  10. Permit or inspection delays: If the project is held up waiting for permits or fails inspections, it could suggest inadequate planning, subpar work, or failure to meet regulations.