San Diego, CA asked in Construction Law and Employment Law for California

Q: After how many consecutive days of no work, can you determine a contractor has abandoned the job?

California contractor walked out of job claiming he needed payment, and has not returned for 60 days. Job approximately 90% complete and payment of 80% made. However, many errors on project (ie. contractor painted schluter as wrong color installed, 4" vs 6" backsplashed installed, non-mitered tile cuts in master bath, wrong color paint used on baseboards through out house, etc. etc.

We sent him a long "punch-list" of what needs fixed, before another payment would be made, but no response.

2 Lawyer Answers
Adam Stoddard
Adam Stoddard
  • Construction Law Lawyer
  • Santa Clara, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You may want to get an attorney involved. Often times I have found that simply having an attorney send a demand letter to the contractor, that motivates the contractor to complete the project in a timely manner. I am representing two homeowners right now with a similar set of facts. As soon as I fired off a demand letter, I received a prompt response from the contractor saying that he would complete the project. You should also refer to the contract you signed with the contractor for timing, etc. to determine when a breach of contract has occurred. Sometimes contractors include timing for progress payments and completion of the project. The sooner you get an attorney involved the better so you can get the project across the finish line. Good luck!

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith PRO label
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, if a contractor has not performed work on the job site for 10 consecutive working days without an excuse, the homeowner can serve a notice of abandonment on the contractor. The contractor then has 10 days to respond with a plan to complete the work. If the contractor does not respond or does not have a valid plan, the homeowner can terminate the contract and hire another contractor to complete the work. However, the specific terms of your contract with the contractor may also impact the situation, so it is important to review the contract carefully and consult with an attorney if necessary.

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