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What do you do when your home contractor isn’t doing the job?

Your home is important to you — so when you hire a contractor to do renovations or build an addition, you expect your contractor to live up to his or her end of the bargain.

So, what do you do when the work seems to crawl to a stop, leaving you with an unfinished project? Here’s the best way to handle the problem:

Start with a request for an explanation

Sometimes, a project will come to a halt for totally understandable reasons. For example, there might be a problem getting the right materials in for the next part of the job. Or, there might be a delay in a subcontractor’s schedule on another project — which is holding your job up in its turn.

Hopefully, you have nothing more going on than a lapse in communication. As long as your contractor is responsive, you can probably rest easy that your project will soon resume.

Move to a formal demand letter

If you aren’t getting a response to your phone calls or emails, it’s time to issue a demand letter.

Remain professional and polite, but let your contractor know that you expect a response within a specific time period.

Get an attorney involved on your behalf

If you still don’t have any response or see any movement on your project, it may be time to consider legal action. There are several different possible remedies to a breach of contract, depending on the specifics of your case.

One possibility is that you may be able to pay the contractor for the work he or she already completed but ask the court to cancel the remainder of the contract — which frees you up to have the work done by someone else. If the contractor’s workmanship is shoddy, however, you may need to ask for restitution so that you can have appropriate repairs done without going to additional expense.

Breach of contract cases can be complicated because no two situations are exactly alike. Gather all the relevant documents — including your contract, copies of communication with the contractor and your receipts — before you head to your attorney’s office. That will make it much easier to determine the best course of action for you to take.