How to Resolve a Dispute With Your Contractor

Construction equipment depicting contractor dispute

Home renovations are stressful. Everything is dirty, there are people in and out of your house, and things are rearranged. Do you know what makes it more stressful? Having to deal with a dispute with a hostile contractor.

What do you do if your contractor wants more money than what was agreed-upon or acts put out when told of a problem? Or worse, what if he’s threatening to abandon the project, sue you or file a lien on your house?

How to Keep the Situation From Escalating

If you are dealing with a bullying contractor, there are two ways you can make it worse with your response:

  • Do nothing out of intimidation or fear of retaliation.
  • Respond with hostility and threats.

Did you do your homework, and do you have an agreement in writing? The best way forward is to respond calmly and logically with what was in your written agreement.

You can try being upfront with him, and ask him why he’s hostile. It could be that it has nothing to do with the job.

However, if the bullying and dispute are over the work on your property, it is best to point him to the agreement you made when neither of you was under stress. Don’t have a detailed, written agreement? You might be in for a bumpy ride! 

Reasons a Contractor Turns Into a Bully

There are plenty of contractors out there who take cash deposits and who will keep them if you change your mind and reschedule. They will be upfront about this policy, often in the form of a written agreement.

It’s in case you change your mind and want to reschedule at the last minute. It’s also because many contractors have been burned by “customers” who want to get work done for free and demand up-front work without paying. Bullying can go both ways. 

Some contractors commit fraud, and they can slip through the cracks even if you feel you have done ample research. That is why we’re always trying to warn our customers about door-to-door salesmen promising to get a job done for half the price, or taking your insurance money and running.

Unfortunately, that does happen. If you have paid a deposit and the contractor didn’t show up and didn’t have anything delivered, you might be able to have criminal charges filed against him and get your money back. 

Handling the Dispute: What to Try First

Try everything in your power to contact him and have a conversation first.

Sometimes, contractors take a long time to get started on a project. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s skipping town with your deposit.

Generally, a reputable company that is simply swamped will do everything they can to keep you informed once you’ve paid that deposit. Also, as we all know, there are legitimate reasons a job can suddenly become more expensive.

Unexpected expenses do crop up in construction, often because an unforeseen problem is uncovered. These problems should be documented, and your contractor should be able to show you exactly where they are, and how he’s going to fix them. 


More often, however, a contractor isn’t trying to take your money and run; he’s just having trouble making ends meet. He might not have enough right now to pay his subcontractors, so he asks you for more money.

This isn’t your problem, but at least you know he’s motivated to complete the job. 

Contractor disputes can get drawn out and ugly. Some bad actors feel they can treat customers poorly because they know they are holding people hostage with unfinished work.

It might be worth paying in advance of the schedule, as long as he is not asking for more money, so you can get the job done. Otherwise, you are looking at starting the process over again with another company while also getting embroiled in a legal dispute. 

Takeaway: The Best Way to Protect Yourself

The obvious conclusion here is that you should always go with a highly rated, properly licensed, and insured company that will enter into a detailed written agreement.

Reputable contractors can’t offer you the lowest price, precisely because their priority is to maintain a good reputation by delivering quality craft on time.

At Renovations Roofing & Remodeling, Inc., we pride ourselves on our customer service and our excellent reputation. Do you live in Southeast Michigan? Please call our office today if you have any questions.

Call today!


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