Commercial – Sample complaint letter against contractor

Sample complaint letter against contractor

Sample complaint letter against contractor

When do you need a complaint letter against a contractor?

Every party on a construction project hopes and intends for it to go smoothly. Contractors and subcontractors want to deliver good quality work, and clients and owners want to receive a finished and fit-for-purpose asset.

Unfortunately, as with most things in life, construction projects don't always go to plan. In fact, construction projects all too regularly run over time, over budget, and feature a number of defects and issues.

Fortunately, most of these issues can be resolved through communicating what's going right and wrong, and rectifying issues along the way through punch lists like this and defect reports like this.

But when these project delivery issues aren't managed properly or efficiently through punch list and quality apps, quality issues can easily be overlooked or swept under the rug.

And when this happens, sometimes clients, owners and other project parties need to write a formal complaint letter against a contractor.

When quality, safety, environmental or other project issues are flagged and talked about with a contractor but not rectified, an asset owner or operator must put a complaint against the contractor in writing.

Exactly when this complaint letter is issued will depend on the relationship and dynamic between the contractor and owner, as well as the issue or issues being flagged.

But most people and parties are pretty good at using their discretion to know when a complaint letter is required.

A sample complaint letter against contractor

So what does a complaint letter against contractors actually look like?

The exact contents of a complaint letter will differ from project to project and contractor to contractor, as the nature of the complaint will be different.

However, the sample complaint letter against contractor below is a reliable and customisable framework you can use and copy to deliver more thorough and professional letters.

It's important to be as specific as possible in the complaint letter, so that the contractor is made aware of the actual problem and can make an informed and diplomatic decision about what to do.

Sometimes more general complaint letters are required, but they should still flag specific issues such as delays or defects.

You'll want to include all of the important record keeping information required in a complaint letter, and make sure that it's addressed to the person or people who can actually address the problem.


[Insert name]

[Insert address]

[Insert date]


[Insert name]

[Insert address]


Dear [insert name],

It has come to our attention your performance on [Insert project name] has deteriorated to a level that is no longer acceptable nor tolerable.

This poor performance issue has resulted in creating many other problems on the project including [Insert important issue e.g delays]. Despite having already expressed our concerns to you regarding these performance issues, there has not been any attempt on your part to improve your performance.

The current issues at hand concerning your poor performance include:

  • List issue and briefly describe the specifics that are problematic.
  • List issue and briefly describe the specifics that are problematic.
  • List issue and briefly describe the specifics that are problematic.
  • List issue and briefly describe the specifics that are problematic.

The intent of this letter is to clearly inform you that unless there is immediate and considerable improvement on your part in all of the areas described above, [Insert your name / company name] will be forced to terminate your services and hire another contractor to take over these tasks.

Please be made fully aware that if this action is taken, it will be done at your expense. To be quite clear on this issue, not only will the cost of hiring another contractor be applied to your account, we will also hold you liable for any other costs we incur as a direct result of the delays and problems that your lack of performance caused.


[Insert your name]

[Insert title]


What to do when a contractor doesn't respond to your complaint letter

As you probably gathered, the sample complaint letter against the contractor above is pretty strongly worded, and more often than not does get a response from the contractor.

But sometimes, the contractor -- owner relationship has deteriorated enough or is toxic enough to the point that the contractor still doesn't respond (or the contractor has other issues).

In this case, it's important to follow the correct course of action in order to get your problem or problems solved.

The most important thing before you look at taking the contractor to court or contacting official authorities is to make sure that you have given the contractor enough warning and time to respond to the complaint.

The steps usually required before escalating the issues are:

  • Talk to the contractor (or attempt to)
  • Put your complaint in writing - similar to the sample complaint letter against contractor above - and give the contractor reasonable time to respond and rectify
  • Prepare your paperwork for lodging a complaint (this will differ depending on your state, commission etc.)
  • Submit formal complaint

Once again, this is obviously not the desired path for an owner or contractor, so seek to rectify the situation through letters and normal communications where possible.

A few pro tips for ways to prevent the need for complaint letters against contractors

There are a few key processes and procedures which asset owners and operators can take in order to reduce the chances of them having to issue complaint letters to their contractors.

One of these key processes and phases of work is the project handover. The project handover gives as asset owner and operator and any third party auditors or approvers a chance to catch any issues before the contractor or party is effectively finished.

Many owners and parties have dedicated site inspections and regular reports throughout a project to catch issues, but for most projects, the project handover is the final time to really keep your contractor on site.

To smooth this handover, a project handover checklist can prove invaluable. The below checklist highlights how important this can be in ensuring that all of the necessary steps have been taken, including things like agreeing to a defects reporting procedure and arranging for the contract to remedy defects before the project is handed over.

These types of agreements and declarations can be the difference between winning and losing a dispute.

Avoid complaint letters to contractors

Use and customise this project handover framework for free.

A few pro tips for ways to prevent the need for complaint letters against contractors

An even better way of preventing the need to write and manage complaint letters to contractors like the sample above is to better manage and monitor the asset and project from start to finish.

While it used to be extremely difficult for asset owners and operators, project managers and other parties to track their projects, it's become easy and accurate with today's project management and delivery softwares.

These softwares enable owners and asset operators like the NSW Department of Education and other companies to manage multiple projects at one time.

All of their site inspections and photos can be captured using a phone or tablet, and all of their records remain organised and securely stored inside of the software.

Environmental project management software

For many companies, these records have been the difference between winning and losing a dispute. And for other companies, it's enabled them to quickly and easily capture, communicate and then rectify defects on their projects.

Even home and small development owners can take advantage of these softwares to better capture, organise and track all of their project information.

Managing project delivery more effectively from start to finish is the best way to avoid having to write complaint letters to contractors.

But sometimes, the only solution is to issue a formal complaint and warning before escalating the issue further.

When the normal defect management solutions  aren't sufficient, use the sample complaint letter against contractor which you read through above.

That'll help keep the tone and professionalism of your letter on point, and help you get the outcome you seek from the contractor and project issues.

See how you can easily streamline your systems and processes with Sitemate today

About Lance Hodgson

Lance is VP of Marketing at Sitemate. His aim is to bring awareness to a brighter future for the Built World where industrial workers and companies work smarter.

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