Can I sue a contractor to recover all money paid to him for incomplete renovation work in my kitchen?

UPDATED: Oct 12, 2011

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Can I sue a contractor to recover all money paid to him for incomplete renovation work in my kitchen?

I hired a contractor 10 months ago to do some basic upgrades around the house – new back splash tile and counter tops (kitchen), installing new smoke detectors, etc. I paid for all the materials. He told me he would be able to finish in 2 weeks to a month. I paid him the bulk of of the money upfront and the rest would be paid to him upon completion. He disappeared for several months and now has resurfaced demanding the balance. However, his work in my kitchen is still unfinished and at this point I do not want him back in my house. Can I sue him for the money I paid him already? I am not sure if he is licensed or not.

Asked on October 12, 2011 under Business Law, New York


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The first thing that you need to do is an online search with your state's contractor's licensing board to determine if the person who worked on your home is a licensed contractor or not. If not, you have no obligation to pay him any more money.

If he is, you need to consult with an attorney who practices construction law about the situation you are in. You cannot sue this person for the money paid to date unless he is not a licensed contractor and he represented to you before you agreed to enter into the agreement that he was a licensed contractor.

I would not let this person back into your home.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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