When Relationships Between Contractors & Clients Breakdown
When a contractor or contractor firm begins work or renovation on a business or home, those who have hired them rely on the agreed-upon contract to ensure that the work is completed, as envisioned and originally planned.
However, as contractor dispute attorneys in Columbus, Ohio, we have all too often seen relationships with contractors go sideways – final invoices that far exceed estimates, work that is below standard quality, manufacturer defects, contract work that goes unfinished – and the relevant parties all too often ‘unreachable’ in the face of these issues.
Terminating the Relationship
Some of the most common reasons that contractors are terminated by clients are due to:
- Timelines: If the contractor, their workers, etc. are repeatedly not meeting deadlines outlined in the contract
- Poor work quality: That is not up to established standards in the field
- Unclear/unexplainable invoices: Invoices that are unreasonable – higher than estimates or quotes – difficult to understand, contractors who fail to explain why, clients who do not pay and/or provide any explanation as to why, etc.
- Unfinished work: Work that has simply not been finished, as outlined in the contract
If you find that you are frustrated in your agreement with contractors, the first and most important step is to review the contract; ideally with an experienced attorney who can help you understand what your options are at that particular stage of the parties’ relationship breakdown. Some of the important questions to ask and issues to consider as you are reviewing this contract include the following:
- Does the contract allow the contractor to place any liens against the property if there are any delays in the process and/or payment?
- If there are issues with overcharging, did the contractor(s) provide an estimate or a quote for the total?
- If an estimate was provided, are there any allowances built in which provide for the contractor going beyond the estimate provided? If so, how far? Did the client approve going beyond the estimate, either verbally or in writing?
- Is there a termination clause? What does it provide for, specifically?
Communications Between the Parties
The next step is looking at what types of communications have occurred in the relationship in terms of any disputes: How have any frustrations or disappointments been communicated? What have the responses looked like? Have the parties tried to work out their differences? If so, how? What is the history of these communications?
If payment has been withheld, is it for good reason – i.e., has the contractor(s) been paid for any portions of the contract agreed-upon, for work that was completed up to par? What amount has been withheld, if any, and why?
Consequences & Options: Contact Our Columbus, Ohio Contractor Dispute Attorneys
Many clients worry that by simply trying to terminate a contract, or refusing to pay the remainder due to the contractor, that they will be liable for breach of contract, however, it is the party that is found to be at fault who is liable for any damages due to the breach. In some instances, there can also be circumstances under which both parties can agree to terminate the contract, whereby the contractor is paid based on which portion(s) of the contract were performed to satisfaction, and damages are spared for both parties.
If you have a dispute with a contractor here in Columbus, Ohio, contact Kohl & Cook Law Firm today to find out more about your options.