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Can you give me some more details about the back story and tell me what your legal question is?
When you initially signed the contract, when was the estimated finish date?
Ok, then you can imply a "reasonable" time for completion and I would opine that 4 months would be considered a reasonable time to get both decks completed.
So your recourse here is to send the contractor a written letter stating that it is unreasonble for you to have to wait over 7 months from the start date for the back deck to be completed and if they can't get it done by XXXXXX then you will consider them in breach of the contract and will terminate and hire another contractor to finish the work.
You decide what XXXX date is but I would make it at least 2 weeks out so he might be able to bump another job to get yours done. Then if he doesn't finish, you send him another letter at the end of the XXXX date and tell him that you consider him in breach due to the unreasonable delay and are terminating the contract.
But since you haven't paid him for the back deck and the compensation was a trade, I don't see you being able to hold him liable for what it costs to have another contractor to do the back deck.
Ok, if you had an agreed on price for the entire job, both front and back decks and it was part cash, part boat, then you can get the book value of the boat and deduct that from the total job cost and that is what is left for the back deck. If the contractor won't complete the job for the rest of what is owed by your time limit, then if you have to pay another contractor over that, then I think you could sue the first contractor for breach of contract for any overage.
The key is you have to give him an opportunity to finish after you put your foot down with a deadline to show you are acting in good faith and giving him one last chance before you go with someone else. You also need to state in your letter, (sent certified mail) that you will proceed to hire another contractor to finish and hold him liable for any overage.
As long as you lay all your cards on the table as to what you will do if he doesn't finish, then you have acted in good faith and can then hold him liable for breach.
You are very welcome. Happy to help any time.
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