Legal Question in Construction Law in California

What constitutes job abandonment in a construction remodel? We have a contract with the City of Orange for a low income loan which includes a separate contract between the homeowner and contractor. The contractor has not been on the job or contracted the homeowner in approximately 3 weeks. The contract calls for work to be completed within 90 days and we are now in the 5th month. Is there a specific time period that is considered "abandonment" of a construction job?

Asked on 9/21/11, 10:50 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Timothy McCormick Libris Solutions - Dispute Resolution Services

There is no bright line rule for how long a contractor must suspend work for it to constitute an abandonment. The better method for establishing an abandonment is to send the contractor a letter setting forth the facts that make you believe they have abandoned the job and that based on those facts you believe the contractor has abandoned the job. Then demand that, if they do not intend to abandon the job, they return to work within a reasonable time, such as a few business days, or provide an alternative proposal for completing the work. In your case I would also add a statement that allowing the contractor to return to the job and complete it is not intended to and will not constitute a waiver of your rights to seek recovery of damages for the contractor's failure to progress with the work and complete it in the time provided in the contract. Send the letter by certified mail, but NOT return receipt requested. RRR letters are frequently never claimed at the Post Office, whereas certified mail is just delivered like regular mail. I also suggest you contact the Contractors State License Board ( and initiate a complaint. You can also find out the contractor's license bond company and file a claim with them.

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Answered on 9/21/11, 11:11 am

Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

I agree with Mr. McCormick, and would add that it is potentially important that the contractor know about your deadlines and expectations, including the time lines in the city agreement. Also, I wonder if you have tried to contact the contractor by telephone or e-mail, and with what result? Why has five months elapsed on something that apparently should have been done in three? What is the status of payments to the contractor? Is money advanced or owed?

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Answered on 9/22/11, 10:43 am

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