How to disagree with a bad contractor


There are a couple of things to consider when your relationship with your contractor sours:

Don’t argue with a bad contractor

Don’t make a bad situation worse. Arguing with a problematic contractor will usually result in the contractor bailing on you when you need him most; if you regard your contractor as problematic, then chances are he thinks the same about you, so why should he stick around to listen to your complaining? Unless you’re an expert troubleshooter in construction dilemmas, you don’t want to get stuck with an unfinished pool deck or a patchwork hardwood floor in your living room. It’s also important to give the contractor the benefit of the doubt during implementation of the work because you don’t want to mistakenly criticize when your criticism may be proven wrong later on; this can ruin your credibility in further, more serious disputes. Speaking in a soft tone of voice will usually gain favor with the contractor. Explain your disagreement calmly, but directly. For example, if the contractor is not using materials you requested him to use, make a note of the materials by taking a picture with your phone and doing a bit of quick research. As with the all aspects of the contracting job, materials need to be specified in your contract with the contractor. Therefore, deviation from that contract is grounds for a lawsuit. Remember to keep your questions civil, but direct. If the contractor persists in using these materials without consent, you should proceed with a lawsuit.

Don’t sound too knowledgeable about your contracting job

-Your contractor is (hopefully) a licensed professional who has the knowledge and experience of his trade. Therefore, you shouldn’t try to speak to one as if you are on his “level” of understanding of the job, because this could ruffle his feathers a bit. You may be tempted to show your knowledge of your home’s unique features—after all, who knows your home better than you? Your passion about your home notwithstanding, try not to use technical jargon about the job when giving instructions or describing the scope of the work to be done. Instead, just describe what you want in layman’s terms. For example, don’t use the words “soffit” or “fascia”; instead, just say “beams” while pointing to them. One important reason for using everyday language is that it gives the contractor the reassurance of authority over the job, professionalism in its implementation, and hopefully, its completion. Remember, contractors are important professionals in a sensitive job, and they are also people who work with their hands on a daily basis, so try not to sound too smart for your own good.

Going through a construction job with a bad contractor can be an arduous journey. You should make every effort not to make it worse by succumbing to your passions and prejudices about your home, and instead letting cooler heads prevail and keeping things simple.


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