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Can I hire a new company?

WisconsinConstruction ContractMechanics LienRight to Lien

We had our floors installed by a company. We paid 50% down., per the invoice we received when paying. They did not finish installing the flooring and have had no communication with us in 60 days. They have also not filed a lien. I want my floors finished but don’t want to pay another company to finish if this company has the ability to try and collect the remaining 50%, $3000.

1 reply

Jul 16, 2019
That's a good question, and I'm sorry to hear about your project going a bit sideways. Let's break this up a bit. First, we'll look at the potential ability for a claimant to file a mechanics lien. Then, we can discuss the potential for hiring a different contractor to finish the job.

Claimant's ability to file a Wisconsin lien
First, it's worth noting that a claimant will only be able to file a mechanics lien for amounts that are owed but haven't been paid for work performed. So, if a contractor has received more payment than what's due for the work they performed, then that contractor wouldn't be entitled to lien. Further, it's also worth mentioning that a failure to perform work for 60 days, much less a failure to communicate for 60 days, likely constitutes a breach of the contract, if not outright abandonment of the contract. If there's any abandonment, breach, or termination language in the contract - it might be worth looking that over. Because, if the contractor has breached or abandoned the contract, they might not be entitled to recover anything under the contract at all - so other legal claims might not be all that threatening either.

Ability to hire someone else to finish the work
If there are any contractual provisions that specify how the contract must be terminated, then those procedures should definitely be followed. Even in a situation where a contractor has apparently abandoned or breached their contract, it's typically a good idea to provide formal, written notice that the contract is terminated and/or that someone else will be hired to finish the work. At least that way, the contractor must either respond or, if they don't respond, they will have tacitly agreed that the contract would no longer be honored. In either case - once the contract has been properly terminated, then an owner can likely safely move forward with bringing someone else to finish the job. As always, perhaps more than ever, it's important to hire a reputable contractor who has a track record of performing good work on a timely basis. Plus, keep in mind that it may be more expensive to bring in a contractor to finish someone else's work.

For a little better look at what might constitute a breach of contract, here's a great resource: Construction Contracts | A Deep Dive on Breach of Contract.
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