Legal Lens: What to do if you feel cheated by a contractor

Legal Lens

The Brown & Crouppen Legal Lens takes a closer look at everyday legal issues and gives you a better understanding of topics that may affect you.

ST. LOUIS – Contractors are in high demand. People have been getting home projects done during the pandemic but you have to be careful. FOX 2 spoke with Andrea McNairy, managing attorney at Brown & Crouppen, about what to do if you feel cheated by a contractor.

What if someone comes into a problem, should they speak with a contractor?

“Assuming you have done all your vetting on a contractor, there can still be things that go wrong,” McNairy said. “Like they don’t finish the work, the work is shoddy, or the contractor steals money from you. If one of those things happens, you have options. First, talk with the contractor and be very upfront about the problem.”

But there are times that the conversation won’t result in any action. But if it doesn’t, you still have options.

“First option is you can go to small claims court in Missouri, that would be money damages up to $5,000. You can hire an attorney if it’s over $5,000. You can file a complaint with the state and the Better Business Bureau,” she said.   

“You can pursue a bond claim. Some contactors get a surety bond. And you can work with them to resolve any claim with them. And finally, and the one most popular now, is to post a review on social media; warning about contractors on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

“My warning to viewers is if you’re going to do that, make sure the review is truthful and, if possible, you have evidence of any of the problems because a contractor does have the ability to sue you because of a false statement. Or sue you for liable if you post a review that isn’t honest.”

McNairy said her office receives a lot of calls about “change orders” for completed or partially finished work.

“Change orders are when contractors will say they had to order additional materials or the materials now cost more than originally quoted,” she said. “So, you have to be careful at the start and read fine print before signing.”

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