Question:

A family friend is a contractor and we hired him to do major renovations on our home. Unfortunately, the job has been substandard and nothing is done well, we cannot point to one thing done and say “that was a good job;” not the paint jobs, closet building, wiring, plumbing work etc etc etc. We have already given our contractor more money than we originally agreed upon because there has been a number of extras. Over the course of the work before certain extras were done we had asked for prices but were never given any and we are unhappy with the price he has given us, well above other quotes for the same job; for example to upgrade our electric panel he is asking $5500 and we were quoted at one point only $3900. Now, he is asking for $5000 more for a certain “extra” he claims when all along he told us it was included and now claims he never said such a thing. We trusted him as a friend, but feel cheated. We have already told him that we are not giving him any more money, but can we do that, can we just cut off the payments because of the sub-standard work? We told him to finish whatever work is paid for and that is it, no more money, but he is not big on listening and tends to ignore things.

At this point what are my options? There is still a lot of work left, many small items here and there that need to be completed to finish the job and have a presentable home. Do I just let him work possibly thinking he is getting more money from me?

Can I ask him for money back for the sub-standard work? Take him to Bais Din to recoup money? Hire an attorney?

And lastly, what I can do to warn others about this contractor who does not do quality work and tries to squeeze a lot more money out of his clients? Can I publicize this? I do not want other’s to lose their life savings and hard earned money like I have. I know I am no the only one as I have found out from a friend, that their brother had an even worse experience.

Answer:

Renovating is almost always very stressful, aggravating and costly… and full of fights. People with experience with people doing renovation know that it can cost a good 20% or more than what they expected. If things were written out then it is easier, (it won’t help you totally because there can always be things that weren’t thought about before the job is actually done).  You should not get an attorney, because it is a very serious chillul H-shem to go to a secular court instead of a bais din. It is like saying “I would rather listen to the secular laws than to the torah c”v”. You situation sounds complicated, and needs a bais din, (there are people that can represent you in the bais din- called a toen rabani). It is not possible to know how much and if you owe him money until the bais din hears both sides of the story. You should not publicize anything, because it might be plain loshon hora. There are a number of conditions in order to permit saying loshon hora l’toeles, one of them is that you are not doing it out of anger.

Hopefully you will be able to go to bais din and work out the differences, and things will be easier for you.

Tags: contractor renovations

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