Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I bought a house that was very undervalued because it needed about
$50K of work. I managed to get a set of short-term bridge loans, and
an agreement from a mortgage broker that if I made all the needed
repairs (various aspects of siding, roof, foundation, plumbing, floors;
yeah I know!) by December 10, that I could qualify for a traditional
mortgage that would be large enough to pay back all the intermediate
loans, give me capital to finish the remaining house projects, and a
monthly rate I can afford. I need to make this deadline!!! The man
who was commissioned to complete all the cabinets (kitchen bath,
laundry, plus) swears he will have everything done within ten days.
That leaves me down to the wire re getting in flooring and
countertops. I need him to be on time! Is there some magic leverage
you know of to make a contractor keep to their word?
Dear Holding Zone:
The time to exert leverage is when you are negotiating, not after the
fact. You can try this idea retroactively, but next time build it into your
contract, as in bid not estimate. The word difference is huge in the
trades. You should always try to have a written bid with all verbal
agreements noted in them.
In get folks to meet deadlines, be sure to have a penalty percent built
into the agreement. X% less pay if the work is delivered y days or
week late. Some people may not sign such a contract. Others may
give you shoddier work. Only you can evaluate the relative merits of
those risks. At this point in the process I would go the other way. Offer
an incentive (probably cash not cookies) for on-time delivery.