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My contractor will not finish the job he has started

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My contractor will not finish the job he has started several months ago. He is my neighbor so I feel bad having to force the issue legally; however, I need this work done. I have not paid him yet but I don''t want to hire another contractor nor do I want to do it myself. How can I get this guy to finish it up? Can I gently "nudge" him by letting him know what CAN happen if he does not finish the work? I am in DeKalb County Illinois

Hello and thanks so much for choosing this forum to pose your important legal question. I will do my best to give you some honest and accurate guidance.

Unfortunately, this is an all too common situation. I have been involved in similar deals in my personal affairs, and it can be a very awkward situation. The usual venue for resolving these disputes is small claims court. So you could certainly mention that to him. Sometimes it also helps to mention that you are considering filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Those are the two primary means of enforcement in such matters. If he had outright taken your money and run, so to speak, he could certainly by liable for criminal prosecution but that does not seem to be borne out by the facts. Another approach would be to send him a letter (certified mail--return receipt requested with a copy kept for your records) giving him a certain amount of time to complete the job or else you will sue. Many of these contractors are "used to" these types of disputes due to the nature of their business (jumping from job to job in different stages of completion). The botXXXXX XXXXXne, however, is that I would start with a very tactful but honest and direct conversation. I would simply say something along these lines:

"I know we've had a number of discussions about the project, and I certainly appreciate that you are busy, but the time has come for some plain talk. I have been as patient as possible, but I am no longer able to keep waited. I need this job finished and I need it finished now. I'm not threatening you, but if you keep putting me off I'm going to have to take some legal action against you. Please take care of this right away so we don't end up in that boat."

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