What are a contractor's options if a customer doesn't make a payment? The one that comes most readily to mind, especially as anger and frustration mount, is simply to stop work. Sometimes this is a contractor's only recourse--and an effective weapon that should be considered. However, the contractor should never "simply" stop, because the legal repercussions are far from transparent. It is the threat of stopping work that is more important than actually stopping work because the threat of stopping work usually gets action. The operations of most contractors are predicated on an uninterrupted cash flow. A construction project reaches the crisis stage if the contractor is not given a monthly progress payment. Viewed from the contractor's position, a missed progress payment is usually the result of one of three causes: (1) For some reason, the lending institution has refused to pay; (2) the contractor's work is defective, and the owner refuses to make payment until the work is corrected; or (3) in the case of the subcontractor, the general contractor has been paid but has applied the full payment to its own debts and thus does not have any money to pay the subcontractor.

Once the contractor has decided to stop work, the contractor must thoroughly check how to do so legally, since failure to observe the legal niceties can ruin the strategy, possibly in a way that's going to cost money.