Hired project manager for restaurant, but keeps delaying work

May 29, 2020

I need some advice please.

In August last year I met a project manager (PM) for a dessert parlour I am trying to open. In general, when we met, everything was great and he was very positive. He and his company has an excellent portfolio of work on many successful different dessert parlours. I decided to go ahead with him and for the first few months made good progress but then it It all went down here from there.

August 2019:

Met and signed pro forma.

August and October 2019:

Made good progress. Placed a large deposit in October for the bulk of the project which included the expensive machinery fittings and fixtures. He said we could open by late December 2019 if we pay the deposit then.

November - December 2019:

We had very little contact, he changed his phone and didn’t tell me for a while as I tried to contact him. Made zero progress. He missed attending site to meet with shopping centre management. When we finally got in contact he told us he has had health issues.

January - Feb 2020:

Tried contacting him but would never pick up or his phone would be off. He replied a few times via email just reassuring he will start work soon. He got a colleague of his to contact me a couple times to reassure me that he will get back to work soon but is still having problems with his health.

We needed to sign the lease for the premise however we needed plans from the PM/structural engineer for alterations and shop fittings/fixtures we wanted to get approved by the landlord before singing. The PM was unable to provide these in time due to his health.

The landlord said we need to sign the lease now as he could not wait any longer for the documents (It had already been 6 months of waiting at this point). I finally got in contact with the PM and he reassured us that it is fine to sign and reassured us that everything will be fine as the alterations were minor and he’s back to work as his health had improved. We had to sign the lease for the premise without any finalised plans - a big risk to take.

We could not get into contact again with the PM. We sympathised with his illness but we asked many times to find a representative so the work could continue when he was unwell but he never did. Plenty of times he promised he would call but never did. We made very little progress, he simply sent some very early drafts of visuals of how the dessert parlour would look like. He also started bringing up private family mourning issues he was having when he did call.

Late Feb/March 2020:

Resumed some work but the plans were not detailed enough according to the shopping centre management and were needed to be redone. This happened with a few different documents such as electric, plumbing, risk assessments etc. The documents kept getting rejected. They were clearly rough drafts/works from previous projects he has completed and not specific to our shop. Made no progress.

March 2020:

After 2 months of nearly zero communication he told us his health issues had continued. After us requesting numerous times he finally arranged a representative who could cover for him whilst he gets better. When we met the representative in person we found out he knew nothing about the project whatsoever. He was actually not an expert in the work the PM was supposed to be doing. He was simply a person who deals with signage. He himself told us he could not continue with our project without finalised plans for everything which is what the PM should have completed. He also agreed that the PM is not doing what we paid him for.

The representative got a builder to do the first part of the job which was to break part of a wall. Even this work was only half done due to an issue with the structural engineer report. This was when the Coronavirus pandemic hit. The representative asked us for the payment for half of the job as he needed the money. I told him to ask the PM for this as the PM sent him. At this point the PM said he was better and could continue work properly and will always be reachable on phone and email. He asked me to pay the representative. I agreed to pay on the grounds he gets the all the paper work done and finalised so work can continue once the lockdown is lifted. I paid the builder in full and the PM said he’ll consider that as a further deposit payment. He promised to get the work and all the documents done.

He also told us the work will be slow as the counter fittings/other equipments was stuck in Italy due to the lockdown.

April 2020:

After a few chats his phones was off again for a month again! He replied via emails sometimes. Made no progress. All this time he kept reassuring us that he can work, so we thought let’s keep going ahead with him. He claimed he had a 60 page document ready to send in a few days. He said he could only focus on my paper work as he was struck in due to the lockdown. This never arrived.

May 2020:

After many emails and phone attempts he replied via email. We had a video call where he apologised and said he had again had health issues. He said he’ll get the work done in a couple of days. He sent over one of the documents out of the many that were needed. Never got the 60 page document he mentioned a month ago and every time I asked him about it he would avoid the question. I tried to contact him for the additional documents but couldn’t reach him.


Few days after he got a colleague to message us that he has had health issues again and that he is motivated to get back to work.

He seemed like a nice competent guy at first but now he keeps delaying everything and is not doing his job properly. I’ve paid a massive deposit and have been paying rent since March. Every day is costing me at the moment. My application for a government grant got rejected as my business was not up and running but in the process of being set up. I also believe this is his fault as if had not delayed it for so long we should have been up and running by now.

If he has such major health issues he should not be taking on clients. He keeps insisting he can continue but we are 8 months in and next to no progress has been made. Even the documents are not complete. The project should have been completed in December time initially and after adjustments it should have been done by February but now we are in June and there has been no progress. Surely he cannot keep doing this. He clearly has no one else who can cover for him. He’s very difficult to communicate with. I have paid multiple deposits and I’m not even sure he has done actually ordered anything. There was a period of 2 months where I couldn’t reach him by phone at all. He keeps insisting he can complete this. If he is not well it his duty to tell me he can no longer continue the project so I can move on? The project is almost 6 months late and all I’ve been doing is waiting on him.

Not sure how to approach this situation. Is this a case of negligence? His health issues are severe however which I could tell from our video call recently; he had to get chemo therapy for example. Just because he has health issues should not mean I am stuck. This is a professional agreement. Please could you advise on what I should do. Thanks.


Feb 16, 2009
I would just find a new PM and deal with this through the small claims court to get your funds back, no point continuing to waste resources with this guy.