Contractor quit, how to get money back
I paid him $1500 after signing the contract, and $1000 on the day he started the work. After about 1 week, we asked him if he could also do some additional finishing of our basement: frame a partition wall in the main room of the basement, and drywall the two rooms plus two doors for an additional $1500. This additional work did not include any electrical work, simply a framed 10'X8' wall with a door opening. He agreed to do this work, and we just verbally agreed on it, did not amend the original contract. I pay him another $1000 once he started on that. It took him about 2 hours to build the wall. When I saw the wall I was quite surprised at the crap job it was. He obviously measured the studs wrong, as most of them ended up 1-2 inches short at the top, so there were just the nails in the gaps. The studs were very loose. I pointed this out, and he got upset, and said the drywall would cover this up. After arguing some more, eventually agreed to put some metal plates to reinforce them. That was as far as that part progressed.
Over the next 3 weeks, work progresses extremely slowly on the basement bathroom. He shows up every 2-3 days, and does maybe 1-2 hours work each time. He and another guy demo'd the existing bathroom, and also had to put in a rough opening for an additional door through cinderblock (took about 8 hours for that). He had to get a plumber in to put in a new drain for the bathtub, and cap the supply lines. He also got in a duct guy to re-route some ceiling vents (about 4 hours).
He starts framing the new bathroom wall (expanding the existing bathroom), and the walls are very crooked. Over a 2 foot section of wall, it is out by 1 inch. The other wall section (about 4 feet) is not level at all. He had already nailed these walls into the concrete floor, and to the existing outside wall studs before we noticed.
So the next morning when he shows up, my wife points out that the walls aren't straight at all, and he gets angry and defensive. He tries to show her that it is straight (while measuring, he was very obviously putting the tape measure crooked). After some back and forth, he said he is done and walks out. I phone him and he said that he doesn't want to do anymore work and blames everything on my wife.
Over the next few days I phone him everyday to agree on the amount he owes us, since at this point we had already paid him $3500, and the work completed was not worth that much IMO.
Eventually (about 1 week later) we agree that for the demolition of the existing bathroom, putting in an opening for a new door, the plumbing and duct work, taking the garbage away, and framing the walls is worth $1500. He also had ordered 30 sheets of drywall, plaster and take, which were delivered. We agreed this was worth $500. So $2000 total, and he owed $1500.
Over the next two weeks I try to get him to tell me when he will pay me. Every excuse comes out, and still no money. Today I spoke with him, and he said he changed his mind. He doesn't owe me $1500. He needs to check his bills again, and will call me back in 30 mins. Of course no call, and he hasn't returned my voicemails yet.
So what are my options...I can sue him in small claims court. I would have paid him $2000, but now I'm thinking the work he did was so shoddy that I don't want to pay him for anything except the plumbing, duct, and the hole in the wall and materials.
Plumbing 4 hrs @ $60?
Duct 4 hrs @ $60?
demolition 8 hours @ $15?
Do these rates seem reasonable? How do I go about getting everything ready for court - get estimates of the work completed, or estimates for getting the bathroom renovated from here on. Get pictures of all work.
Any other ideas??? I won't mention the company name yet, and I do have pictures of the work.