Q&A: Can I Sue My Contractor for Unreasonable Delays?

February 19, 2019 | Bill Henry

Can I sue my contractor for unreasonable delays?

Absolutely. Homeowners want to sue for unreasonable delays all the time. The question that we have to wrestle with and bring in that lawsuit and actually prove in order to win that case is: is it indeed an unreasonable delay? Unreasonable to homeowners might be different than unreasonable to the judge. Additionally, if time is a very important concern [to the homeowner], in the contract we need a time is of the essence clause so that we can set out the expectation of timeliness. We would like to see in that contract some form of remedy, some set of damages, so that everyone is aware, the contractor is aware, going in that he must be finished in, say, 30 days. If not, every day after that will be a penalty of some amount. And the contractor agrees to be done in that amount of time. Otherwise unreasonable delay is difficult to win, unless it’s egregious. And, certainly, that can happen. We often see contractors come in and get started on a project and then they don’t come back for 30 days. Then they come back and do half a day’s work and then they leave again for 30 days. In these types of cases, even with no supporting documentation, we may be able to claim and win a breach of contract based on unreasonable delays.

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