Q&A / 

Disappearing Contractors

Payment Problems

Do you know someone who has had a contractor disappear and not come back to finish a job? Do you think that would happen if the contractor was owed a significant amount of money? In most instances, the contractor has actually walked away with extra money!

Homeowners routinely advance more money to contractors than they should. The result is that you, the homeowner, have now become a lending institution. You have now LENT money to the contractor and you're now HOPING  the contractor will PAY BACK the money in the form of work. What a mistake! Don't get into the lending business.

Usually this problem starts at the beginning of the job when a customer has little leverage. You, the customer, want the contractor to hurry and start the job. You can't wait. In a trance, you will do whatever the contractor says. Your judgment is clouded, not quite unlike what happens the moment you walk into a new car showroom.

The contractor asks for money upfront - a deposit - a good faith statement - or some other hogwash. You offer it up. You are now playing the game of catch-up baseball.


Do you give money to the store manager at the grocery and THEN go pick your stuff off the shelves? Do you pay the restaurant in advance for your steak dinner? Do you pay in advance for your dry-cleaning?

The point is simple. This is the policy you should follow with contractors.

Here's more.

Do you think the contractor pays his employees in advance?

Do you think he pays his subcontractors IN ADVANCE for their work?

Does he pay his suppliers IN ADVANCE for the materials for your job?

The answer to those question is:


So WHY should you pay the contractor in advance?

You shouldn't.

The only time it's REASONABLE for you to pay some money in advance, or forward a deposit, is for special order or custom goods.

Some contractors use your money to pay the bills from the jobs they finished months ago. If you end up at the end of this string (and mind you this happens every week somewhere), you will become very friendly with your attorney.

The Solution

I urge you to find a financially stable, trustworthy, knowledgeable contractor. They are out there. Usually these individuals will agree to a fair, timely payment schedule. They will discuss with you progress payments.

They are entitled to a portion of their profit and overhead with each payment. It is unfair for you to hold this over their heads until the conclusion of the job. Click on the following to use as a basis for a fair payment schedule for your job.


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