Job abandonment can be a distressing situation for homeowners, leaving them feeling abandoned and uncertain about their rights and liabilities. In Georgia, determining what constitutes job abandonment and the resulting consequences can be complex. To shed light on this matter, consumer investigator Dale Cardwell discusses homeowners' rights with attorney and contracts expert Kevin Veler.

1. Definition and Legal Considerations

Job abandonment refers to situations where a contractor fails to complete a project within a reasonable timeframe, leaving the homeowner in a state of uncertainty. Georgia law does not provide a clear-cut answer to what constitutes job abandonment, making it essential to examine legal frameworks and related acts that can guide homeowners in understanding their rights.

2. Georgia Law and the Contractor Licensing Act

The Contractor Licensing Act, enacted in 2007, sets forth provisions related to state-licensed residential and general contractors. It empowers the state licensing board to revoke a contractor's license if they abandon a job for which they are contractually liable. However, specific guidelines regarding the definition of abandonment remain elusive.

3. Presumed Abandonment After 90 Days

While Georgia law may lack clear parameters for job abandonment, the state's Contractor Licensing Act suggests that after 90 days without any action or progress, a project can be presumed abandoned. However, for most consumers, waiting 90 days without any visible progress can be exceedingly long, particularly for projects like roof replacements or kitchen remodels.

Reviewing Contract Terms: An Essential Step

Before determining the course of action, it is crucial for homeowners to thoroughly review their contractual agreements and understand the terms and requirements outlined within. These contract terms often specify the notice period and opportunity to cure in case of job abandonment.

1. Contract Requirements for Notice and Opportunity to Cure

The contract should outline the precise steps homeowners must take to address issues of abandonment, including providing notice to the contractor and offering them an opportunity to rectify the situation. Familiarizing oneself with these requirements can help homeowners approach the situation more effectively.

2. Negotiating Time Deadlines in Contracts

While contractors may resist specific start and end dates, it is not unreasonable to include language that stipulates progress and completion timelines within the contract. Setting realistic timeframes based on the scope of work can provide clarity and accountability for both parties.

3. Balancing Contractors' Resistance with Clear Expectations

While it is essential to find a middle ground that allows contractors flexibility to accommodate unforeseen circumstances, homeowners must not neglect the importance of setting clear expectations. Open and honest communication when negotiating contract terms can help foster a positive working relationship and mitigate potential issues.

Exploring Options When Contractors Extend Past 90 Days

When a contractor extends the project beyond the presumed abandonment period of 90 days, homeowners need to understand and assess their available options to avoid further complications and financial losses.

1. Remedies Available to Homeowners

Homeowners facing job abandonment have multiple avenues to explore. It is crucial to refer back to the contract to determine the specific remedies available in such situations. This may include seeking compensation, terminating the contract, or engaging completion contractors to finish the work.

2. Small Claims Court as a Resolution Option

If the total amount in dispute falls within the limit set by small claims court (in Georgia, which is fifteen thousand dollars), individuals can represent themselves without the need for an attorney. However, this approach comes with the risk of facing judges who may lack expertise in construction-related matters.

3. Documenting the Contractor's Failures

To strengthen their case, homeowners must maintain meticulous documentation of the contractor's failures, including the dates on which they failed to show up or complete work. A contemporaneous record, backed up by photographs or videos when possible, can provide crucial evidence if the situation escalates.

The Right to Repair Act and Its Implications

In Georgia, the Right to Repair Act provides homeowners with a framework for addressing deficiencies in workmanship or repairs after completion.

1. Georgia's Right to Repair Act Overview

Under the Right to Repair Act, homeowners must formally notify the contractor of any deficiencies in writing. This notice triggers a process whereby the contractor has 30 days to inspect the property and respond to the homeowner's concerns.

2. Following the Act's Procedures

To ensure compliance with the Right to Repair Act, homeowners should follow its specific procedures. This includes providing an expert report highlighting the deficiencies and adhering to the timelines outlined in the act.

3. Reviewing Manufacturer's Instructions for Proper Repairs

In cases where incorrect installation or defective materials are the cause of the problem, homeowners can refer to the manufacturer's instructions. These instructions often outline the necessary steps for proper repair, aiding homeowners in navigating the resolution process effectively.

When Completion Contractors Become Necessary

Engaging a completion contractor can be a viable solution when the original contractor fails to fulfill their obligations. However, it is important to consider various factors and potential challenges when bringing in another party to complete the work.

1. Risks and Considerations for Completion Contractors

Completion contractors undertake a risk by stepping in to finish a project beset by abandonment issues. They must ensure they understand the full scope of the project, have a clear understanding of the homeowner's expectations, and diligently address any underlying issues.

2. Challenges in Identifying and Fixing Unseen Issues

Completion contractors face challenges when addressing issues behind walls or concealed areas that weren't initially visible. This requires careful planning and coordination to make necessary repairs without causing further damage.

3. Communicating with Completion Contractors and Documenting the Process

Proper communication and documentation are vital when working with completion contractors. Keeping records of all interactions, ensuring comprehensive explanations of work requirements, and documenting the final outcomes help protect homeowners' interests.

Financial and Legal Considerations

As homeowners navigate the complexities of resolving abandonment issues and seek appropriate financial recourse, it is essential to weigh the potential costs and legal strategies that can be pursued.

1. Recovering Costs from the Original Contractor

Homeowners may consider legal action against the original contractor to recover costs incurred due to abandonment. However, pursuing such action can be expensive, and it is important to assess the potential benefit in relation to the costs involved.

2. Assessing the Value of Pursuing Legal Action

Engaging the services of an attorney can be a costly affair, particularly for claims involving smaller amounts of money. In cases where the costs of legal action outweigh the potential financial recovery, it may be more practical to explore alternative resolutions.

3. Small Claims Court Limitations and Available Representation Options

Homeowners have the option to file a claim in small claims court themselves without legal representation if the dispute falls within the court's jurisdictional limit. However, it is important to be prepared for potential inconsistencies in how judges interpret and apply the law in construction-related cases.

Addressing Concerns about Liens

When homeowners feel abandoned by a contractor, they may worry about the possibility of liens being filed against their property. Understanding the nature of liens and the associated legal ramifications can help alleviate this concern.

1. Understanding the Nature of Liens

A lien is a preliminary filing that indicates an intent to file a lawsuit. In Georgia, contractors must file a lien within 90 days of the last day they worked on the project. However, it is crucial to note that the lien itself does not give contractors an immediate right to seize the homeowner's property.

2. Differentiating Between a Lien and a Lawsuit

A lien filing does not necessarily signify that a lawsuit will follow. Homeowners should not panic when faced with a lien, as it primarily serves as a notice. The contractor may use liens as a scare tactic without intending to proceed with legal action.

3. Filing a Notice of Contest to Protect Homeowner's Rights

To protect their rights, homeowners can file a notice of contest in response to the filed lien. This prevents the contractor from delaying legal action and ensures a more efficient resolution to the dispute, reducing the time within which the contractor can bring a lawsuit.


Navigating the complexities of dealing with a contractor's job abandonment can be overwhelming for homeowners. By understanding their rights and obligations, reviewing contracts carefully, documenting progress, and seeking legal guidance when necessary, homeowners can assert their position effectively. The key is to approach each situation with a clear understanding of the legal framework and available remedies, ensuring that their rights are protected throughout the process.

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