How to deal with contractor delays

How To Deal With Contractor Delays During Your Remodel

Those of us who have engaged a general contractor to renovate a home are aware that the process can be stressful. One reason for this fear is that renovation projects might be dealing with contractor delays and may seem to take forever. Over fifty percent of homeowners had a terrible experience with their remodel or complained about a poor contractor. They cite project delays or a contractor’s failure to perform as promised as the primary causes.

There are a number of ways in which you can wind up with lengthy contractor delays; here are some recommendations and guidance to help you avoid this or find solutions to address contractor delays that have already occurred.

Contractor delays remodeling project @prosandconor

Employ The Correct Contractor

If you have not yet engaged a contractor or begun your project, there are a few crucial things you should be aware of and procedures you should take to achieve the best outcomes. The most crucial thing you can do is to pick a contractor who respects your time and the timeline he or she promised. You never want to get stuck with a bad contractor.

If you are using a contractor for whom you have contacted three references and they all report that he completed the project on time, you may be confident that he will do the same for you. Additionally, you can explicitly communicate your expectations upfront.

Set Rules to Avoid Delays

It’s a good idea to  ask all contractors to sign a 20-point “Code of Conduct” outlining the expectations for their conduct, including the following wording regarding adhering to their timetable and avoiding delays:

“Contractor agrees to have a crew on-site every weekday for eight full hours, with the exception of holidays, emergencies, and unusual circumstances.” Homeowners must get this assurance from any contractor they choose.

“Contractor agrees to have a crew on-site every weekday for eight full hours, with the exception of holidays, emergencies, and unusual circumstances.”

The majority of contractors manage multiple projects concurrently; large contractors have a large number of concurrent projects. A competent contractor is capable of completing all work that was committed. There are a number of techniques to determine whether a contractor can adequately manage their present project load and provide you with good service.

First, establish with their current clients that their projects are not significantly delayed and that the contractor maintains excellent communication.

Another early indicator is the contractor’s responsiveness prior to the commencement of the project. If it takes more than a week for the contractor to meet with you or to present you, it may indicate that they are currently too busy with other projects. A reputable contractor will be responsive and communicative throughout the duration of the project, and their active customers will have nothing but wonderful things to say about him/her.

Remodel month delayed schedule

Certain Contractor Delays Are Unavoidable

You should be aware that some contractor delays are unavoidable, and you should be prepared. There are numerous possible challenges that the contractor on your project could face. The list of daily problems that are largely beyond the control of contractors is virtually endless: workers not showing up, truck breakdowns, traffic delays, material delays, material quality issues, subcontractor problems, equipment malfunctions, surprises hidden in the walls of the home, architect errors, worker injuries, city inspection delays, etc.

Homeowners who are renovating must have reasonable expectations of their contractors (but don’t be a pushover). The adage that homeowners should assume “the job will cost twice as much and take twice as long” has some merit. Although this is an exaggeration, homeowners must anticipate that the majority of projects will cost more and take longer than originally estimated.

It is important to note, however, that there is a fine line involving contractor delays. Although a 10-20% delay or cost overrun is typical for even ‘excellent’ contractors, a 50-100% delay or cost overrun is not typical and may be symptomatic of a dishonest, poorly managed, or poor contractor.

How To Prevent Builder Delays

There is no way to completely avoid contractor delays because problems happen and construction workers are not always dependable, but there are a few things you can do to mitigate this problem. Once the project has been initiated, consider the following steps to prevent delays:

1) Ensure that staff is present at your home every day. Once a contractor begins missing complete days of work and offering excuses, this is an indication that delays are imminent.

2) If a contractor requests additional funds sooner than anticipated, it may indicate that they are experiencing financial difficulties or are overextended.

3) If a contractor becomes unresponsive or slow to respond to you, this is a warning sign that he/she is either too busy with other projects to give you appropriate attention, or there is some other issue preventing them from connecting with you.

It May Not Be All The Contractor’s Fault

Also, remember that you may have contributed to some of the project’s delays. Many homeowners today, upon deciding to remodel a space, may search online for design ideas and materials to use in the renovation. Frequently, the items depicted in web images are either custom-made or exclusive to boutique and ultra-expensive online merchants.

Therefore, the next and most difficult step is to take your photographs to other stores and attempt to locate identical materials. By the time you have made the final decisions, ordered these items, and waited for them to be delivered, it is likely that the project will be behind schedule.

Assuming you have reviewed all of the above and are still convinced that your project is experiencing excessively long contractor delays, there are likely several potential causes. Some contractors will take on too many projects at once, knowing that this will delay one or more of those projects. Other contractors simply mismanage their crews or are overextended, causing them to remove workers from one job to work on another, frequently delaying the project of another client.

Remedy For Contractor Delays

Regardless of the cause, many homeowners experiencing significant delays will become so frustrated that they may wonder, “Can I sue for contractor delays?” or “should I issue a formal warning for my contractor’s delays?” In certain instances, the contractor ceases showing up for work, and homeowners question what to do if the work is not completed.

contractor warning letter

When a contractor is not meeting your expectations for maintaining a fair timeline, your first step should be to discuss your issues in a calm, reasoned manner. Request a face-to-face meeting and be prepared to discuss particular project delays you observed. Also, ensure that you are polite and courteous. Explain kindly but firmly that you are spending a significant amount of money for this renovation and that construction delays are severely impacting your life in a number of ways.

Communicate to the contractor that you are open to negotiating completion time, but you require a fair timeline. Remind them that you both want the project to be completed and for them to be paid in full.

Going the Legal Route Has Its Own Complications…

Keep in mind that your objective is to complete the project as quickly as possible, so if you decide to sue a contractor for delays, it will halt the project until the lawsuit is concluded, and the costs of a lawsuit are prohibitive. In addition, the odds are against you obtaining a favorable verdict or a substantial monetary settlement.

In addition, you can opt to dismiss your contractor and hire a new one to complete the project, but be aware that this can result in a contractor fight and a whole new set of problems. However, if a contractor fails to complete the job, you can surely register a complaint, file a claim with their Surety Bond or state license board, or even file a lawsuit.

Before taking any of these extreme measures, you may consider emailing or writing the contractor a letter regarding the delays. A first warning letter for delays should be written “gently” so that the contractor is not offended, but will hopefully take it seriously enough to address the issue. A second, follow-up warning letter can be more firmly worded – you may consider having an attorney write a warning letter for you as well.

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