How to get out of a contract with an unprofessional and uncomfortable contractor?

2 weeks ago

We have a contractor who did not request permits for areas of digging outside on the waterline and inside on the sewer line. I paid him 50% of the work and he only completed 30%. We do not feel comfortable with him due to his belligerent attitude and unprofessional actions. Such as coming in our front door uninvited to try and divert my wife from speaking to a county inspector who was suspicious and uncomfortable with him. Can I terminate my contract if he did not request permits for areas of work he completed? He is threatening to sue so we are looking for the best option to void the contract.

Thank you!

Senior Legal Associate Levelset

Ultimately, what actions may be available will depend on the terms of the contract, itself. If the contractor has breached the terms of their contract in a meaningful way, then it may be possible to terminate them for cause. If the contractor has not breached their contract in a material fashion, an owner could still terminate their contract for convenience if the contract allows for it.

Further, if the contractor was required to pull permits for the job but failed to do so, or if the work being performed requires licensure and the contractor isn’t in fact licensed, then those may also serve as grounds for termination.

Of course, it’s always to be mindful when considering terminating the contract. And, an owner who terminates one contractor and has to bring someone else in to finish the work will always end up paying more than the original contract price (which may well be worth it). What’s more – to terminate a contractor without further legal dispute, an owner may end up needing to come to some sort of agreement on winding down the contract with their contractor – and it’d be wise to collect lien waivers for whatever amounts are paid in winding down that relationship.

Finally, I think these resources should be valuable:

– Wrongful Termination | When is Termination Considered Wrongful?
– How a Termination Clause Works in a Construction Contract

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