San Rafael, CA asked in Construction Law for California

Q: Our contractor seems to have abandoned our project, no contact in 3 wks. He left many tools. When can I sell his tools?

Very strange, he won't return calls or texts. We know he's alive because of recent social media postings. Our project is not complete and he has some materials we already paid for. We will have to hire somebody else to finish the project. He has left at least $1000 dollars worth of tools at our house. I am considering selling the tools to offset some of our extra costs. Is there a period of time I need to wait?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Hung Le
Hung Le
  • Construction Law Lawyer
  • Ho Chi Minh

A: First, it's better you look at the contract to see if (i) any period required for a contract termination; (ii) if the answer is yes, then you have to follow it, and you will have your entitlement to sell tools left at your house. If the answer is no, (or you think it is worthy doing so) then you might need to serve him/her a notice to the address stated in the contract or if no such address is given, his residential place, asking for the resumption of the work, and the possibility of imposing a delay damage. A reasonable period of time depending on situation to situation, but a few days is recommended, and it should be sent by post or other communication system allowed in the contract. Hand writing is acceptable.

Second, in this context, a post is not considered authenticated as he/she did, and it might not be considered to be legitimate to consider his action as an abandon of the work.

Third, after the fulfillment of such obligations, you might arrange the work to be executed by other or by yourself, and set off against any tools he might leave, or claim for further sum/compensation.

Hope the delay or the replacement of the contractor does not cost you a lot.

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