What should we do about this guy (a bad contractor)


12 Years
Feb 22, 2007
Belleville, WI
Before I start, let me say that I believe most people are good, and that includes most contractors. I think that most want to do a good job and leave their clients satisfied. For all of those good contractors out there, this is not about you. This is about one particular guy who has been just unbelievable in his unreliability.

We hired a guy in the early fall to install a fireplace chimney and do a stamped concrete sidewalk in exchange for a large screen tv. He was great, got the job done quickly, took his tv and left. He and my husband had gotten talking about other projects we have in mind and they came to a cash/barter combination agreement involving the installation of a bathroom. It was cash upfront and a motorcycle at the end. So we paid the guy, quite a bit. He worked for a few weeks pretty diligently, and added a couple of additional bills along the way, which we reluctantly agreed to and paid. Then the excuses started. These were all big excuses that you wouldn't really call someone on, like his dad dying, his mom being hospitalized, himself going in for cancer treatments. We were understanding and forgiving for all of these. But he kept saying things were back on track and he'd be there on Monday. And then not show that whole week, no phone call, email, nothing. The next time we'd call him he'd say the same thing, or have some other excuse, like "oh, yeah, last Monday on my way there I had a car accident". There have been so many excuses. All told we have heard about his dad, his mom, his cancer, two car accidents and ensuing insurance issues, a daughter with seizures, broken radiator in his truck, flat tires, broken cell phone, broken computer (so he couldn't email that he wasn't coming), and so forth. We are beginning to believe that none of it is true. He started the bathroom in October but has been to our house only once since December 9th. At this point we'd like to just get our money back for everything that is not done and wash our hands of him. I don't know that he will agree to this. So then there's small claims court, but having found a three page record of lawsuits against him in the court system we're not optimistic about getting anything back. Does anyone have any ideas, or have you dealt with someone this bad? Is there anyone familiar with the law who can tell me about enforcing a small claims court decision? I mean, I can't believe we could lose the claim, as the work clearly is not done (we wrote a contract, we both signed). But then how does it get enforced even if we are awarded the claim?

Oh, we're so fed up. This is exactly why we've done all previous projects ourselves, and will do so in the future.
Small claims court would be your only avenue and if he does not pay when he loses then you would have to file a lean against him, then wait. Sounds like he was not a licensed contractor, so I don't think you have any other options.
I'm not sure about the laws in your state, however in Texas you can get a judgment against them which means they cannot buy anything in the county(real estate, vehicles, etc.) until said judgment is paid. If he has had several lawsuits filed against him, odds are you'll be in line behind everyone who won a case against him previously.
Good luck to you!
Hind Sight is always 20/20 -- Been there done that. We have learned that you truly cannot get blood from a turnip. sorry you are going through this. But with information you have given us...Even if you do small claims, chances are you wont get anything. I would be real surprised if he has any of your money left.

Dishonest folks, I can't say what I am thinking...
Bad for you good for him I guess.Let me be perfectly clear on this.Never ever hire family "that you already know is undependable" because you think they need a break.Cause they dont ! Never hire an unlicensed uninsured contractor because the homeowner is liable for all accidents and your homeowners will have to pick up the tab for any accidents.Always Always ask for and recieve certificates of insurance before you allow a contractor on your premises to do the job.If you pay a deposit get a full receipt.And good luck!
Since it sounds like he probably already spent your money and small claims court might be a dead end if he has no
cash or property for you to put a lien on. Would you be satisfied with him completing the job?
If so, Try to bait him with a larger project. Maybe an addition or a kitchen remodel. Then after he completes the bathroom just don't
call him back.
I feel so sorry for you . . . we were taken to the cleaners 7 years ago, and never could recoup a thing. State's Attorney told us that it would cost us more in legal fees, than it was worth, and we already shelled out $5000+ extra picking up the bad checks he wrote. It was a HUGE outside job, new wraparound porch, roof, soffit, the whole enchilada. He would get to a certain point, not know how to do it, and then go onto something else. My husband was patient for about 3 weeks and then he lowered the boom on him, and he did get almost every bit of it done. After it was all said and done, and he had taken a powder and left town, we started getting calls from creditors who he had written bad checks on, in my DH's name . . .used his checking account, but put it all in our name . . .we were several days getting that straightened out, and it took the rest of the money we had earmarked for int. redo's that still have yet to get done. . .other than small claims court, there is nothing you can do, and I mean it truly when I say I know exactly how you feel. All in all, it cost us over $8000 because we had to pay another carpenter to come back and redo a couple of things and finish out some other. It was heartbreaking to say the least.
We had a similar thing happen years ago to my family. Hired a contractor to put on an addition, paid him the fee he required up front, and he never showed up again to finish the project. He stole a lot of money from other people in the town as well, but we were lucky that he had never used any money to actually purchase materials or that he never actually started on our house. The other people who had money stolen had to take him to civil court. Luckily my dad is a cop and was able to get him arrested and charged criminally. We got most of our money back through bonds set on him and what not, but unfortunately I don't know that the others ever got anything. He didn't have any money to pay back, but I know now he certainly owes a lot!

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