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  1. #1
    WendyJoseph Guest

    Default appealing to contractor

    I have a question as to "industry standards" or "best practices"

    I met this contractor at the Hynes Convention Center Home Show, and got him to install sidelights on either side of my front door. I got a written Estimate. Then they came, and said that there would be more labor involved than they thought.

    I then emailed 2X, and spoke by phone to the Owner, asking for an amended Estimate. He hemmed and hawed, and said that they wouldn't know, but that it would not be that significant.

    They came and did the job. I now have an Invoice for more than 3 times, almost 4 times the original estimate. I now (my bad) also find that he is not licensed or registered in my state.

    I need to know how at approach this Contractor. He gave me a Labor breakdown to show his costs, but I would not have gone forward with this job had I been made aware of this type of cost overrun.

    The many Agencies I have contacted only tell me to file a report or take him to small claims. Before such a decision is made, I want to try to contact him to come to an agreement on a reduced bill (perhaps 2X the Estimate instead of 3 or 4?) I don't think that starting the letter or phone call with "I am going to report you" will be helpful to my case.

    So I need some wise opinion as to what is a fair offer on my part, and I would like some information on "industry standards" or something to that effect.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: appealing to contractor

    you are probally quite right. somewhere between a rock and a hard place. you will probally do best with a face to face. its easy to ignore letters. the part I hope you have in your favor is that you haven't paid yet.? if he isn't willing to reduce your bill then I would ask to see a copy of his license so you can write them on the check for your records. this will put him in a very awakward position he will either try to go around this issue or he will lie. either way tell him your bookkeeper won't let you write the check with out the numbers. he should at this point be willing to come down rather quickly. the concequences of doing business with out the proper licenses can be rather severe in some states.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: appealing to contractor

    Quote Originally Posted by havanagranite View Post
    you are probally quite right. somewhere between a rock and a hard place. you will probally do best with a face to face. its easy to ignore letters. the part I hope you have in your favor is that you haven't paid yet.? if he isn't willing to reduce your bill then I would ask to see a copy of his license so you can write them on the check for your records. this will put him in a very awakward position he will either try to go around this issue or he will lie. either way tell him your bookkeeper won't let you write the check with out the numbers. he should at this point be willing to come down rather quickly. the concequences of doing business with out the proper licenses can be rather severe in some states.
    I quite agree! I am the first one to advocate for a peaceful resolution before resorting to more extreme measures. Overall, from your description, it doesn't seem like they were being unethical in their business practices, it sounds more like something that got out of hand due to lack of a job site inspection prior to submitting the estimate, then once they were committed to the project, a lack of communication on their part. I also get the sense from the tone of your post that you wish to pay for services rendered, you just aren't willing to be taken advantage of. Since you have not paid them yet, you are the one in the position of power.

    Most states that have contractor licensing/governing bodies DO NOT look kindly upon unlicensed contractors doing business in their jurisdictions. What this means is that they will be in far more trouble if you report them than if they work to a peaceful resolution. You need to educate yourself on what your state and local laws are that govern the hiring of an outside party to work on your property. If your laws require a license to work in your jurisdiction, then the contractor has no legal claim against you for any services rendered. When you know your rights, you tip the scales in your favor towards a peaceful resolution. The contractor may be pissed, but better a little irritated and short of cash than having their license suspended or worse.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: appealing to contractor

    Absolutely agree with the 2 previous replies.

    If payement hasn't been made then you have leverage.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  5. #5
    WendyJoseph Guest

    Default Re: appealing to contractor

    Gentlemen:
    Thank you for your replys; you are quite right and have understood the situation; #1)I only paid a Deposit amount so far

    #2) I don't think that he was Trying to be unethical. However, my reading of some of the 93A statues, at least in my state, quote that "in the established concept of 'fairness', 93A does Not require showing that deceptive practice was knowing or willful".

    In layman's terms, I understand that to mean that even if 'he didn't mean to be', an Invoice for 3X the Estimate without notice is a deceptive practice.

    #3) You are correct in that I do intend to pay a fair bill. (The part about 'needing his license number to write the check' is brilliant!)

    My question still remains about 'best practices'. Whether or not it is mandated or standardized, what would you advise as a first volley in my communication with him; for example: "I understand that normally a Contractor would have informed me if he understood that his bill was going to be 20% over his estimate...ect."

    Thanks,
    Wendy

  6. #6
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    Default Re: appealing to contractor

    Quote Originally Posted by WendyJoseph View Post
    My question still remains about 'best practices'. Whether or not it is mandated or standardized, what would you advise as a first volley in my communication with him; for example: "I understand that normally a Contractor would have informed me if he understood that his bill was going to be 20% over his estimate...ect."
    Read over your original contract again. I've not seen one yet that didn't have fairly prominent verbiage something to the effect of "all change order to be in writing". Basically, the contract will state that the contractor isn't responsible for items not in writing, conversely, he would have no claim to those same items that he is now trying to charge you for.

    After that, the opening volley could be "we need to talk", the location of which should either be neutral territory or your home, NOT his office. You should have someone you trust with you for moral support - don't go this alone, it's much harder and intimidating. It also doesn't hurt to have a third party witness to the conversation.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  7. #7
    WendyJoseph Guest

    Default Re: appealing to contractor

    I guess I forgot to mention that there was no contract. The Estimate was for $522.00, which does not require a contract in MA. (Under $1,000.00 does not require a Contract; but of course the Invoice is for well over $1,000.00) As far as paperwork from the contractor goes, I have an Estimate, and an Invoice, that is all.

    For what it is worth, I have in writing 2emails where I asked about an amended Estimate. The phone call I had with the Owner, asking again for an amended estimate, and where he told me that the cost would not be significant, is of course not recorded!

    So, no Contract to refer to. Am I in worse shape than before?

    Wendy

  8. #8
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    Default Re: appealing to contractor

    Quote Originally Posted by WendyJoseph View Post
    So, no Contract to refer to. Am I in worse shape than before?

    Wendy
    Hard to say, it probably depends on how your municipality looks at contracting. That is, when a job is under their mandated contract amount to start, but evolves into something over that threshold, is a contract then retroactively required? Is any work additional to the threshold required to be contracted? At what point do they step in and say that something should or should not have been contracted?

    You may want to contact your local contractors governing body for clarification of that. You can get the info you need without filing charges OR reporting the contractor, just tell them you are thinking of having some work done and you need to know what the limits and liabilities are should the work exceed the threshold of requiring a contract.

    I don't know what the going rate for a contractor is in your area, however hearing that the estimate was $522 for two side lights would have been a red flag for me. Of course, I know all about details that are required to complete a job of this nature. Suffice it to say, I doubt that I could even buy the materials for that amount, let alone spend at least the better part of a day if not several to do the work. I can see how the price went up three or four fold, particularly if this was a quote given site unseen.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

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