What do I do when contractor doesn't show up?

shadygarden_CO(z5 Denver)June 21, 2006

I hired a landscape contractor to do some back yard renovation. He was referred to me by my landscape designer. He did not ask for a retainer, and I didn't know if that was the normal practice or not. I like him and feel comfortable with him, but am afraid he stretched himself too thin, because the work is just not getting done in a timely manner.

He said he'd schedule the work to start on June 5th and be finished that week. When he didn't show up on the 5th, I called and he said he'd be here on the 6th, then called on the 6th and changed it to the 7th. He did come the afternoon of the 7th, with two crew members, came back on the 8th with two people, a man and a woman, both very pleasant and personable. They worked for 5 or 6 hours and he said he'd be back the following Monday. When he didn't show up and didn't answer his cell, I called the office and left a message. The owner of the company eventually called back, explained that the contractor was very ill and had told a crew member to notify everyone, but that hadn't happened. So the contractor finally showed up on Friday of last week, with the man and the woman, and they worked from about 8:30 until 2:00, with me working alongside them. They came back this past Monday and I worked alongside of them most of the time. They again worked from about 8:30 until 1:30 or 2:00, although the woman left before that. The contractor promised to be back yesterday, Tuesday, but didn't call or come and didn't answer his cell. So today when he didn't call or come (he planned to finish the project today), I again called his cell and then called the company and left a message. I haven't heard from anyone yet.

Someone told me now that if a contractor doesn't have you sign a contract and ask for a retainer, you should expect him to be not very professional or organized.

Meantime, I ordered some roses from High Country roses to be here on June 8th, which is what the contractor suggested, so they've been waiting to be planted and I can't plant them myself because the drainage problem still isn't solved. I wanted own root roses and I guess the nursery where he bought roses didn't have that kind, so that's why we agreed I would order and pay for them.

I realize I probably was pretty ignorant and made some mistakes in this whole thing, but does anyone have any suggestions on what I should do now? Is it ethical to see if I can find someone else, which I realize at this time of year is probably unlikely? Should I just try to find someone to put in a drain where I plan to plant the roses and try to do the rest myself? I definitely want to pay the contractor for his work, but I don't know how much that is at this time. Like I said, I really like the guy but I am just very frustrated about the whole thing. There is quite a bit of work left to do and the yard is pretty much bare dirt right now, so I am kind of desparate.

Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you in advance for any...

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Contact the owner and express your concerns. Sounds like lack of a contract was a red flag in this instance. Contracts protect both parties, you are now discovering them not whipping one out at the close of the deal should have been cause for alarm. You might have come out all right with someone you already trusted, had an established relationship with--like when you have a gardener that has been maintaining your garden for years make some improvements. But you didn't know these people and are finding out they are apparently flakes. Now you have to deal with this aspect of their approach. If talking to the owner does not produce results then you will have to take other steps. Probably other posters will chime in with what these other steps might be.

Media here has had amazing horror stories about landscape "contractors" here who have taken large amounts of money from homeowners and then disappeared. That's why there are licensing and insurance requirements made by the state, to protect the consumer from shenanigans that go on. (It also serves to eliminate competition from small operators that cannot come up with the money for the bonds and insurance premiums, but that's another topic). If you search this site you can probably also find similar posts to yours still hanging around.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2006 at 5:16PM
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With reference to another thread currently running and not directly connected with marlene's question, how do we raise the standard so that people like marlene do not feel ripped off? A contract that allows both parties a security governed by law? A deal where we pay or accept cash and by pass tax/workers comp/ real benefits for workers etc. Who do you (the generic you and not a confused and honest marlene)want to show up?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2006 at 6:56PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

This may have not come to landscaping, I haven't noticed but I have noticed that in the building industry here some have been getting around some aspect of running a pyramid structure with multiple employees by "subcontracting" everything. A crew shows up and works on the house under the direction of the builder, but when you talk to them you eventually are told all the workers are actually "subcontractors". Must be a loophole that is being exploited or there just isn't any enforcement--yet. Maybe you are encountering the same thing, your "contractor", rather than being a foreman or other employee of the real contractor (the owner) as one might ordinarily expect is actually a subcontractor and thus not as subject to his direction. He has "subbed out" your project and may not even know what is (or isn't) happening there on a daily basis, unlike if they were all his employees and got grilled each day when they got back to the shop. This might also explain why he hasn't been coming out to the job site (you didn't mention him checking the work, anyway). Or, you just got hooked up with a jerk outfit.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2006 at 7:29PM
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Many contracting firms, specially those that are relatively new to the game, overbook projects and find themselves stretched very thin at this time of year. A few hours at this job, a few at that and often with days in between, as they try to keep everybody relatively happy that they are getting suitable attention and succeeding nowhere. Lack of follow-through and completion, combined with no contract, is a pretty good indication that the company is young, less than professional and biting off more than they can chew.

Call the owner and establish some mutually satisfactory deadlines that he and his crew will adhere to. With no contract (and even with one), you are well within your rights to withhold payment until the work has been completed in a timely matter and to your satisfaction and to specifications. Money talks and the threat of nonpayment (justifiably for work not done) is typically a great motivator. Both you and the contractor will have learned some valuable lessons from this experience.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2006 at 10:05AM
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jumpinjuniper(6A Nova Scotia)

The nature of contractors is not to be on time. One thing on one project that goes wrong can mess up their entire schedule. I call as many as possible to do one job. The first to show up gets the work. I stopped feeling bad a long time ago about wasting other contractors time after they wasted mine time and time again. They are accepting each and every job they recieve. Play their game and your job gets done.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 1:16PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

A contractor I had out today to look at a project said of eight jobs he had scheduled three changed plans and loused everything up. (He showed up here on time, but I called him in the first place because we were already acquainted).

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 9:39PM
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neonrider(USDA 8A ^ Sunset 31 ^ Mid-SC)

We signed a simple contract (no fancy company form) with a plumber. They did not show up, nor called until I called them. They said they will show up some other day, not sure when. A long story short - they rescheduled, but seemed uncooperative after I wanted a county inspector to inspect their work (after they would be done in the future) and after I asked them to pull a work permit. They seem not to be licensed with Residential Builder's Commission. Now they told me I must wait nearly 2 months to get my money back as they say they already bought the materials for the advance payment that I paid them. I said it's ok to refund part money and part materials for the job, but they still unhappy and they now told me the plumber went to a hospital for 1 month. I think they are liars and they just trying to keep my oney, but they don't realize how big of the trouble they got themselves into since I'm gonna file a complaint of unlicensed contractor to the State Investigations and Enforcement commission etc. I guess I hit the scammers yet again... but I know what to do: report them, they get fined, cease and desist and prison time, then sue them in Small Claims Court and go to the end until their property gets sold and I get compensated. The money they got from me is over $1000 (for buying materials). I also will write and post my story in the forums and on a blog, so their plumbing company gets really damaged and hopefully they will not get much business anymore. Once I go after someone, it's for life. Any additional suggestions or experiences?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2007 at 6:57PM
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I am what many would call a jerk of all trades. For the first 15 years I lived on a farm where if you needed hay wire to get the job done you grabbed hay wire. Then I went logging where if your 10 cord of wood was not on the yard a trucker did not roll in the Am.We were paid on production so I didn't get paid either. I went to school and got a business degree with a 3.98 average. Manager at a chain hotel 1 year "to many rules" and went back to the woods. At 27 I went to help a friend at a marine shop during mud season and the next 23 years have been there. I now manage a off shoot store (do not read sub). Some people understand if/ than but not many. I tell people if you are very lucky it will be done this day and cost x. If you are a little lucky it will cost that and be done y. If you are very unlucky it will cost z and you will have nothing. Case in point, cust. bought yard sale motor. It ran , would not Idle, came to me to rebuild carb. 95.25 parts and labor. I put in test test tank and it was not pumping water,called cust. he said put in new pump, 140.00. It was a 1972 outboard that looked new. Cust saw motor run and pump in tank. Cust ran motor 15 min. and lost spark (part no longer available) can not be fixed. He is not happy, I am not happy, sometimes no one wins.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 12:59PM
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