Problems with late work by contractor

<Apologies if this shows up twice, original post doesn't seem to have made it out.>
Back in May, we hired a contractor to do some remodeling in our house. The scope of the job was basically a kitchen remodel, plus knocking down a couple walls on the main story, and installing some new flooring. Throughout the job we've had some problems with the contractor (code violations, lies, shoddy work, etc.) but that's not the most serious issue.
The work (which began around May 7) was supposed to end, according to the contract, by August 30. I'd estimate the work is about 30% done at this point: The demolition and framing have been done, electrical and plumbing roughed in, sheetrock up, painting done (by me), and cabinets are going in this week. Still to go are countertops, sinks, slate flooring, hardwood flooring, new stair railings, french doors, finish carpentry, finish plumbing, finish carpentry/trim, finish electrical, install woodstove, install appliances, etc. Now, with less than 3 weeks to go, it is obvious that most of this work will not be done by the deadline.
Had the schedule been blown due to changes by us, or material shortages, unexpected difficulties, etc. I could be forgiving. But the truth of the matter is that for most of the summer, he has ignored our job. Over the 16 week period of this contract, there have been spans of up to 6 weeks when zero work was performed. There has been far more inactivity than activity. The only time he works on something is when we call to bug him.
He's claiming now that he'll be done by the 30th, but as I said, we know he's a liar, so I don't put much stock in that. The question is, what recourse do we have when the 30th comes and goes and the job is not done? The contract specifies no specific remedies. It also mandates arbitration as the mechanism for resolving disputes.
We're being denied the use of the entire first floor of our house during this remodel (we're living in the basement eating microwaved food), and we're weary of it. I guess what I'm looking for is some monetary compensation for his failure to perform.
Do we lock him out on the 30th, hire a lawyer, and see what we can get through arbitration? My sense is that the arbitrator (specified by the contractor) will probably side with the contractor, since that's where their business comes from.
I guess my questions are:
What can we reasonably ask for as a remedy? How do I go about this? What can I expect from arbitration, if that's the way the go? Do they usually grant anything to a homeowner if the contract was not completed in a timely manner?
Thanks for help or advice,
Kelly
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On Wed, 13 Aug 2003 15:43:00 +0000 (UTC), someone wrote:

I'd seriously suggest you have the order of those two things backwards. You are going to cause serious problems for YOU if you lock the contractor out on that day. Its not just ha ha now I gotcha nah nah nah. If you lock him out, then how are you gonna blame him for the continued delays, when you are preventing him from getting in and finishing? He'll just claim he would have been just, say, 2 days late, but for you blocking the completion for the next 6 months while everybody sued everybody, how does that get the job done faster???
If not specifically stated that time is of the essence in the contract, than highly doubtful that you could begin collecting any damages on the 30th, it would have to be some 'unreasonable' time after that. And you CERTAINLY can't collect any for before that, if that is the target completion date, no matter how behind you think he is.
The job isn't even due yet, and already you are doing this!!!
-v.
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On Wed, 13 Aug 2003 15:43:00 +0000 (UTC) snipped-for-privacy@ptdcs2.intel.com (Kelly E Jones) wrote :

Ask him if he will guarantee that date in writing with a penalty clause for failure to complete the project on time. That should quickly smoke out his sincerity.
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wrote:

And to be fair there should be a bonus for early completion, the daily rate being the same as the penalty. Funny how most home owners want the completion penalty but not the bonus.
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If the homeowner all of a sudden needs the project finished ahead of schedule, then a bonus would certainly be due. However, if the homeowner is satisfied with finishing the job by the specified date, then a bonus is not called for. The contractor can simply collect full payment a little early and move on to the next job ahead of schedule.
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A monetary punishment for failure to complete on time is called liquidated damages. It will typically be thrown out of court if there is not also an equal bonus clause for early completion in the original contract.
--


Keep the whole world singing. . .
Dan G

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No, that's why it's called "liquidated damages." It's not a penalty but a predetermined loss reimbursement. LQ's do not require an equivalent bonus provision.
Of course, all of this is moot if it's not in the contract.
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Yes that is the way to go. hopefully your contractor has been paying to the fund.
Do they

depends on how long it was over the completion date.

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