Without a doubt, the past 2 months have been the most stressful time I can remember. It all has grown out of a project I wanted to do in building a music space for myself. After clearing the BS of govt approval to build on my land, I went with a recommendation from my landscaper to hire a contractor friend of his. Keep in mind, the contractor grew up in this area and went to the school next to mine, we share a lot of mutual friends. So, he gave me building plans and set a price and requested half up front for materials which was 3500. I went right after our meeting to get the plans approved. They were denied due to his foundation method not being sufficient to their code. Contractor told me it would be another $3k to do the foundation that way or I could do 2 smaller buildings. Neither idea was going to work with me so after a week of mulling over options with him, I decided to cancel. He said he had a $500 cancellation fee which I agreed to pay. He said he would have my refund in 2 weeks. 2 weeks went by, nothing, fast forward now to 5 weeks from when I cancelled and I still have received nothing other than excuse after excuse. Its either, he's short on workers and can't finish jobs, he has to pay me back in cash cause my deposit went into an escrow/materials account that he can't withdraw from without a "big tax penalty", his clients leaving town prior to paying, the weather has prevented him from working. Now, everyone I've talked to that knows this guy is very surprised and said they didn't expect to hear that and have never heard of him having problems with anyone like that before. I checked his court records and he actually has no history of criminal or civil cases against him. Question is, how long do I let this go on before reaching a boiling point and take him to court? My wife has a friend who is a paralegal and has written up a letter for me and found his address. Besides having a civil case to get my money, I assume after i could always threaten to pursue criminal charges as he's operating without a license and i'm pretty sure there is some fraud/theft going on with what he's doing with my deposit. I didn't want to be too threatening but the stress of chasing him down every week is running its toll on how i'm treating my kids. It's emotionally draining. I've offered to give him a receipt to use on his taxes to prove the withdrawal was a refund, not for personal reasons. I've offered to still pay him a reduced rate for his time and cancellation fee, which he agreed to. I've started contacting his friends to start pressuring him to do the right thing, but that just started a couple days ago. All this on top of the fact I have a 4 month old baby, 2 slightly older kids, and a normal 9-5 job and over 20 outstanding orders on reverb. I'm tired.