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Ask Deborah Awyzio Your Own Question
Deborah Awyzio
Deborah Awyzio, Solicitor
Category: Australia Law
Satisfied Customers: 863
Experience:  Bachelor of Laws (QUT), BIT (QUT), Family Law Accredited Specialist, over 12 years experience
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We hired a landscaper to install our colourbond boundary fence.

Customer Question

We hired a landscaper to install our colourbond boundary fence. It was quoted at $17,000 AU for the job but had the line at the bottom "not including rock breaking/ digging, to be charged @ hourly rate".
No written contract was signed.
Verbally we discussed worse case scenario for the rockbreaking (seeing as we explained that the WHOLE property was caprock limestone) and only nebulous answers were given "could be 2 grand, could be more, I can't tell you till we start... but if it was as bad as 10grand... we wouldn't take the job"
Verbally he explained it would be a 2-3 day job (volume of labour was not specified in the quote). All up the job was ~ 74 panels. End of day 1 (done with No rock breaking equipment) there were 6 panels up. End of day 2 (jackhammer used) there were 10 panels up. Discussion occurred that needed to get the 'big machine' which "should do" the job @ $500 / day + labour (3 men at $75/hr for 8 hrs) for another 2 days. Once again he said "I can't tell you how much it will all cost" to which we answered "If you can't tell us what it will cost, I can't tell you if I can pay it". He said "we'll go one more day with the big machine and see how it goes". End of Day 3 only 26 panels are installed and they have walked away from the job (exact words are "we're done"). They are still charging us the full $17,000 and just going to leave the unused materials in our yard so that we can 'do the rest ourselves'.
Does that clause about rock breaking mean we have to pay?
Do we have a case to make him finish the fence as he's underquoted / not done a test drill to do an accurate estimate?
Do we have a case to only pay the 36% of the job he's completed?
I don't want to pay for the 1st 2 days where no rockbreaking equip was used when we clearly discussed that it would be required (why wasn't it there from day 1)?
He charged us a 50% deposit so he already has $8780 of our money!
He's threatening to sue us / get his lawyer. He's also threatened to come and tear it all down! He is being very aggressive and intimidating and when we have tried to discuss a resolution he's said "I'm not moving 1 cent! We put the hours in... you ahve to pay"
Any advice would be appreciated.
Signed - 1 very stressed out Mum!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Australia Law
Expert:  Daniel replied 1 year ago.
HelloYou are obliged to simply pay for the quote in the scope of what work they undertook. They are in the business of fencing. It is simply not good enough to just blow things out, They could foresee the issues, or at least quoted the worst case scenario in light of anything. They cannot charge you for any unused materials and the like. I would strongly suggest speaking with the police if they have been intimidating to you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
So then the best option (best meaning - most likely to have a swift outcome and stand up to any argument from the fencer's lawyers) would be to only pay the 36%... is that correct?This doesn't acknowledge all the so called 'extra labour' and equipment hire they had to put in to achieve that 36% completion. Is that irrelevant? and, as you say, his fault for not forseeing the issue and specifically detailing it as an inclusion in his quote?Problem then is - he's already got 50% payment via the deposit... so we would have to demand a reimbursement of ~ $2000.
Expert:  Daniel replied 1 year ago.
YesI would suggest that. In court, they will scoff at their suggestions that it is not foreseen. They have mislead you and now trying to scare you into paying. Please click accept / leave feedback.