What can you do if your contractor walks off the job?

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A home renovation can be an exciting project. Whether you're adding a new bookshelf to your home, installing wainscoting, or just repairing a broken piece of furniture, an experienced carpenter can do wonders. And if you live in a city like Newark that was recently hit hard by hurricane Irene, you may be in desperate need of a carpenter to repair your deck or some other outdoor structure that was damaged.

For these reasons, a carpenter is a valuable handyman. That is, of course, if he's reliable. Many homeowners have experienced terrible carpenters who either don't do what they said they would or leave without finishing the job. As a result, the best thing to do when searching for a carpenter is to get referrals and receive estimates from a number of preapproved, dependable carpenters. However, if it's too late and you've already hired a carpenter who has disappeared without finishing the job, here are some of your options.

Try and Contact Him

If your carpenter mysteriously disappeared without completing the job, the first thing to do is to try and contact him. While you may have tried calling with no success, there may be a logical explanation for his absence and he may not be able to speak right now. Leave a voice message and a text message with your name, contact details and explanation of why you are calling. If you know his email address send him an email as well. If the contractor is actually a subcontractor or is a staff member working for someone else, contact his superior. You should wait about 24 hours before becoming concerned at a lack of response.

Apply Pressure

If the carpenter has left and actually told you he will not complete the job for whatever reason, the first thing to do is discuss it with him and try to persuade him to change his mind. If this does not work, you may have to apply some pressure. Has he left any tools or materials around? If so, lock them up or hide them and tell him they won't be returned until he completes the job. This may seem immature but it beats giving up. Obviously you should not pay the carpenter until he has completed the job. However, if you have already written him a check, contact your bank and try to put a "stop payment" on the check if it hasn't yet been deposited.

Seek Legal Action

If you have a signed contract you can threaten to take the carpenter to court. It's especially critical to threaten him if he has begun the job and left your home in an unlivable and/or dangerous state. If any electrical work was being done and wiring is exposed, contact an electrician as soon as possible. If he is avoiding your calls contact a lawyer or the police. If you need more contact details of the carpenter search local workers unions or the phonebook or internet for his place of business or residence.

Always protect yourself. Don't hire someone if he seems unreliable, and pay as small an up-front fee as possible. Be sure you have a signed contract and always request a receipt for any payment. If you're left with no other options seek legal advice.

Source: http://www.networx.com/article/carpenter-disappears-off-job