Do I have to pay a contractor after he abandoned my bathroom renovation job?
Contract signed, stating completion within 2 eeks. We paid half down. After 2 months, I wrote an e-mail specifying a new completion date, and a $100 per day penalty for going beyond that date. He responded by e-mail saying "that all sounds fine." It's been 2 more months, so the balance has been depleted to zero. He's done more than half the work, but hasn't been out in the last month at all. Meanwhile we've been greatly inconvenienced and our homeowner's insurance is canceling our policy due to the trash pile he left from demoolition. I finally hired someone else. Now the first guy wants to get paid?
First thing you need to do is read your written contract with contractor number one who has not been on the job for a while assuming you have one. Its written terms dictate the contractual rights and obligations he has to you and you have to him regarding performance and payment.
Is he a licensed contractor in your State? If not, perhaps under your State's laws you do not have to pay him any more money because some laws preclude unlicensed contractors from getting paid for works of completion.
You should send him a written letter advising him that he has abandoned the job site and stating why, keeping a copy for your records and stating that a new contractor is on the job to finish it.
Potentially the former contractor may owe you money for work done by the new contractor to finish the job. This would be the difference in higher price charged by the new contractor for what is remaining on the job to finish it versus what the contract price for the remainer by the first contractor.
You would not seem to be obligated to pay the first contractor anything more. If there is a state licensing board for contractors in your State of residence, you might consider filing a complaint against the first contractor for abandoning the job.