Millersville, MD asked in Contracts and Construction Law for Maryland

Q: I'm trying to start a business in MD. I have signed a contract with a construction company in VA in june 2019.

The construction company is taking their time to do the work and right now its December. How long does the contraction company have until he finishes my business renovation if there were no dates in the contract? I go to the job site everyday and they might be only working one or two days out of the week. Right now they want me to pay up to 95% of the contract to finish the work. I have paid up to 70% of the contract already. And if I don't pay 20% more, they are planning to slow the job until I pay them... Please advice what is my next move.. Thanks

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Construction Law Lawyer
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: You will need to meet with a construction law attorney to go over all the details. You do not state, for instance, what percentage of the contract work has been completed, and of course, the contract terms need to be reviewed for both determining obligations and remedies. The law generally writes in a "reasonable time" to complete performance under a contract when thee is no specific time of performance stated. What a reasonable time is depends on what is to be performed, what is normal in similar contracts, what the parties' expectations were when entering into the contracts, etc. You also do not state whether you have issues with the quality of the work. Further, nonpayment when payment is due would normally be a breach sufficient to excuse performance. So, if 95% of the contract is complete, and they've passed the benchmark for getting the next 20% of the contract price, then it is you who may be in breach. On the other hand, if they have only performed 50% of the contract and are demanding 95% of the contract price, their demands may be viewed as unreasonable. Unfortunately, many owners fail to appreciate how to negotiate construction contracts and insist on a draw schedule tied to clearly stated completion benchmarks for the work. The contractors always try to get paid far in advance of actually performing the work. Sometimes advance payment is necessary to provide necessary funds to perform the next phase (materials, labor, permits, subcontractors, etc.), but other times the contractor is simply front loading the payment schedule which can place the owner behind the eight ball if the contractor ceases work and leaves the project only partially finished after taking all the money. It is unclear what your situation is, and only a thorough review of the contracts and other circumstances will allow a lawyer to advise you.

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

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