I wish this wasn't the case (and trust me, I love being right most of the time) but I was right.
The contractor emailed this morning to say he was out of money and couldn't finish our job.
Here's his email:
I can't tell you how sorry I am about your project is not being completed today. I totally missed the mark on this one by pricing it without any profit at all in it. It's my responsibility and it's totally my fault. My guys won't work for me until I pay them, there's simply no money in this job to do that now. I have a responsibility to you and your wife to cause and effect the completion of your project, by either hiring another contractor to finish it, and pay them out of my own pocket or to go do three jobs myself so I can make enough money to complete yours. We don't even have enough money for gas to get there. I'll get it sorted and get back to you, I'm sorry, more than you'll ever know, and I'm sorry about this piece of crap phone that I'm about to throw out the window.
And my response:
It's unfortunate that it's come to this but we all need to move on.
Dan forwarded me your email. We have spoken and here is the resolution we propose:
We would like the materials you said you had purchased for our project ($350 worth)... the drywall, the lumber, the cabinet and anything else you told us you bought that was in transit when the truck 'broke down'. If in fact those materials were never purchased, as you said they were, we would like cash or a money order in the amount of $350.
At this point we want to cut our losses and have our basement finished. It sounds like you won't be able to get it done in any reasonable amount of time and we wanted the basement finished two weeks ago. We aren't interested in you doing the work becuase we have lost our trust in you. We will be hiring someone else by the end of the week.
Please respond to both of us and let us know whether we can expect money or materials. Also, if you are going to deliver materials I have changed the garage code so you will need to call me before you come to bring them.
Mark, in the future, I hope you are honest with your customers. It is obvious to us that you had no intentions of returning to the house once you said goodbye to Dan on Monday. I don't know many people who can look a man in the eye and tell him you'll be back, knowing full well you have no intentions of returing. That says a lot about your character and your business practices. I hope you know that.
In the meantime, I have looked into action in small claims court. We will file a claim for the money in the event that you don't respond with your plan to repay us by the end of the week.
So, onward and upward. I wish there was a lesson learned here though. We checked references, didn't pay in full. Not much more you can do. I guess we should be less trusting and better judges of character.
Off to hire someone else and get the damn basement finished!
The Best part? Someday... someday... we will have a playroom for Cannon... come hell or highwater... we will have an effing playroom.