Protecting Your Contract with Contractors

Whenever you remodel or renovate your home, you likely will hire a contractor.  A contractor is a person or company that signs a contract to provide materials or labor to perform a service.  People use contractors for housing renovations, building construction, and other important services.  Although we hope that your experience was exceptional, issues often arise when jobs are not completed by their contract date.

First, it is most important to make sure that you are hiring a licensed Florida contractor.  Your home is one of the most important investments that you make in your entire life.  Because of the increase in unlicensed contractors, you should always make sure to verify their license.  This will protect you and your home.  You can read more about avoiding scams in the construction industry here.

Second, if you need a job completed on time, you must make sure that it is in your contract.  Most completion date issues start from the creation of the contract itself.  It will be much more difficult to enforce a deadline for contracts that lack a “time is of the essence clause.”

A “time-is-of-the-essence” clause is necessary if you want to enforce a deadline.

Imagine you enter a services contract with a licensed Florida contractor. The contractor agrees to lay tile in your kitchen and install a new shower in your master bedroom. The contractor agrees to complete the job within 3 months. You agree to pay $20,000 at the end of the job (including labor and materials).

Is the contractor liable for a material breach of contract if after 3 months the contractor has not finished the job?

The answer likely depends on whether you had an express “time is of the essence” clause in your contract.

The contract should state an express condition of your payment that the contract must complete the project by the contract date. In addition, the contract should expressly state the completion date. Then, if the contractor fails to complete the work by the stated deadline, then that failure likely constitutes a material breach.

A material breach opens to the door to many potential remedies for you. For example, you may be entitled to hire another contractor to complete the work and reduce payment to the original contractor accordingly. You may also be able to sue the original contractor for consequential damages, like any foreseeable loss of income or additional expenses incurred because of the breach.

If you have concerns regarding your current or prospective contract with a contractor please contact us.  Our experienced attorneys look forward to assisting you.

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