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7 Potential Reasons to Part Ways With a Contractor

Becca Stokes
Written by Becca Stokes
Updated November 25, 2021
big yellow suburban house
Photo: Ariel Skelley / The Image Bank / Getty Images

When parting ways with a contractor, be short, sweet, and to the point

While most home projects go off without a hitch—from your dream kitchen to new exterior paint—once in a while, issues with your contractor can arise. From missing deadlines to unprofessional behavior, firing a contractor won’t happen often, but it’s smart to know how to handle it just in case. 

Learn seven potential reasons to part ways with a contractor and how to do so respectfully.

1. Refusal to Provide a Contract

it’s pest control or bathroom sink repair.

A contract is important because it puts the terms of your agreement in writing with details like any required deposits, payment dates, job completion dates, scope of project, copies of insurance and other certifications, the agreed-upon price for the project, warranty, and more. 

Think of a contract as a work guarantee. If a contractor won’t provide or sign a contract, this is a red flag that you should part ways before the work even begins.

2. Contract Violation

Firing a contractor shouldn’t be taken lightly. After all, this is their livelihood and you are most likely eager to get your project completed as well. Some mistakes are just that, and communication can clear them right up without ever having to even consider firing your contractor.

Maybe they didn’t show up on time due to a personal issue and will produce outstanding work if you can look past it just that once. But you won’t know unless you ask. However, some issues can’t be overlooked, and it’s important to know the difference.

Large mistakes like taking out the wrong wall are obvious signs, but it could also be overcharging, not communicating, or showing up extremely late, putting your timeline at risk.

Give your contractor the chance to make it right, but if they refuse or the issues are too severe, it might be time to part ways.

3. Drug/Alcohol Use

If a contractor is using drugs or alcohol on your project site, they aren’t just being unprofessional and likely producing sub-par work; they’re also putting themselves—and you—at risk. An impaired contractor is a liability, period.

4. Unprofessional Behavior

woman standing in kitchen looking at papers
Photo: monkeybusinessimages / iStock / Getty Images

It’s common for contractors to ask for deposits throughout the length of the project to cover costs. Keep track of how much you are paying them and when you made those payments. Share that information with your contractor. 

Should you discover that your contractor is overcharging you or otherwise stealing materials from your job to use on other sites, you have the grounds to fire them from your project.

5. Poor Job Attendance

Contract or no, a professional shows up to a job. That’s the bare minimum in most fields. If a contractor continually doesn’t come to work, you are well within your rights to fire them and hire a new contractor to complete the job.

6. Zero Communication

Your contractor should be available to you for updates about the project. It’s very common for projects to go over budget or over time, but that’s usually for good reasons explained by a good contractor who knows to keep you in the loop. 

Contractors who don’t return phone calls or drop off the map as soon as they get the job aren’t contractors you want to continue working with.

7. Faulty Insurance Information

If your contractor promised you they were insured, and then, halfway through the project, you discover they are not, that’s a legit reason to let them go and end your professional relationship. You need honesty from the contractor you’ve hired, as well as the assurance that they have the proper certifications, training, skills, and insurance(s) to protect you and themselves.

How to Professionally Part Ways With a Contractor

Although it’s a casual professional relationship, it can still be nerve-wracking to have to fire your contractor. The key to doing this the right way is to be professional: Schedule a phone call with your contractor.

In this meeting, let them know the reason you are ending their employment on this job. Don’t make it personal, stick to the facts, and stay calm but firm.

Always have a copy of your contract with you for these types of meetings so you can both make reference to the document should any questions arise. Be kind but professional—thank them for their time and move on to the next contractor in your area who is a better fit for you and your project.