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In a perfect world, every vendor you work with would be professional, courteous, and skilled. We don’t live in a perfect world – and you need to know how to handle bad eggs.
It’s something no real estate investor ever wants to deal with – and yet many of us do. Your contractor’s gone AWOL. They took your money and ran without delivering even a modicum of the quality you’d expect of their work. And now, they’re impossible to reach.
I can go on about being careful who you hire — about doing background checks and due diligence — until I’m blue in the face. Fact is, some people always manage to slip through the cracks. Some especially slimy vendors always manage to fool you into thinking they aren’t bad news until it’s too late.
Whether your contractor did a terrible job or didn’t do their work at all, here’s how you can respond to being left high and dry.
The first thing you need to do in a situation like this is to take an objective look at what’s going on. What are you dissatisfied with? Are you reasonable to be unhappy, and within your rights to take action about it? Did your contractor follow their written contract to the letter, or is there a clause they violated?
You need to know the answer to all these questions before you move forward with any action.
If your contractor refuses to admit that there’s an issue — or refuses to talk to you at all — bring in a third-party inspector. Have them examine both the work the contractor did and the overall property. If they find that the work done was poor or incomplete, they can provide you with official documentation which will be invaluable in getting the job done (or, if things go really sour, bringing that contractor to court).
Assuming the work of your AWOL contractor was found unsatisfactory, bring in another contractor to give you an estimate of how much it’ll cost to fix your original contractor’s mistake. Make sure to be extra careful this time that you work with a reputable vendor. You don’t want to get slammed with the same problem all over again.
Next up, send the original contractor a copy of your inspection report and the third-party estimate. Give them a reasonable amount of time to respond, and keep trying to contact them in the meantime. Hopefully, when they see the documents, they’ll be willing to come in and finish what they started.
If not, you’ll have to proceed to the next step.
By this point, you’ve done everything in your power to fix the problem, and given your original contractor ample time to come in and redo their work. There’s only one thing left to do: contact a lawyer. You’re probably going to have to fight this out in court if you decide a legal dispute is truly worth your time and money
If you’d rather not get involved in lengthy legal proceedings, then you’ll just have to eat the costs, treat your experience as a painful lesson, and try not to make the same mistake in the future.
This article is by Armando Montelongo, Jr., a real estate mogul. Follow his blog at ArmandoLive.com.