ethical dilemma with contractor


I interviewed for a job with a contractor I work with but am not employed by him. He provided the job lead and the clients decided not to go with him. The clients ended up reaching out to me separately to engage my services. While I'm not legally bound to work with the contractor, I feel as though I would be going behind his back if I took the job which I'm interested in. I don't want to ruin our relationship by doing this. Would it be unethical if I did? Have you ever been in a similar position and how did you deal with it? Thanks.

Feb 14, 20 2:51 am

Talk to him and let him know of your concerns - but still take the job.

Feb 14, 20 8:24 am  · 
Wood Guy

I've been in that situation several times. On the first one I learned a valuable lesson the hard way--don't burn a bridge by recommending other contractors. Tell them that because that builder brought you on board you feel that it would be unethical to recommend other builders. Others may disagree but following that rule has worked well for me. Also, let the builder know what is going on--they won't fault you for talking the job. Or they shouldn't, anyway. 

Feb 14, 20 10:02 am  · 

Agreed. I also usually talk to my contractor to let him know what is going on. Often they will give their blessing for you to pursue the project without them (which they know buys them goodwill when you learn of a project and make contractor recommendations)


I am not a contractor but from a moral standpoint I agree with Wood Guy's approach. Plus it'll help you sleep better at night. 

Feb 14, 20 10:05 am  · 

The client hires the contractor so you are under no obligation (and you have no power) to make sure that they hire him.  

That said, I agree with Wood Guy, don't recommend other builders, let the owner find them. And next time you are asked to recommend some builders, include this person's name, assuming they are qualified for the job.

Feb 14, 20 10:44 am  · 

While I appreciate the loyalty to someone who referred you for a project, I question the wisdom of allowing an owner to procure a contractor without any guidance from the architect. What happens if the owner comes back with someone totally unsuited for the job? Lots of headaches for the architect. In my region, unscrupulous and incompetent contractors are prevalent, and unless its an experienced and sophisticated owner, we make it our business to assist in vetting potential contractors.


Personally, we contract to the owner & we inform the GC that that is where our prime responsibility lies. We have a frank conversation with them prior. We're not looking to undermine that relationship, but we have a duty to protect the client. To the extent that the owner asks us for independent evaluation of the GC's services, we should feel unconstrained to provide candid opinions. We know that the contractors that have worked with us previously understand, but, we have certainly lost work to contractors new to us that didn't want to risk the lost client. We are ok with that.

Feb 14, 20 3:55 pm  · 

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