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Richard - Bizlaw
Richard - Bizlaw, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 8786
Experience:  30 years of corporate, litigation and international law
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I was contacted by a client looking to relocate his business

Customer Question

I was contacted by a client looking to relocate his business and production facility. The relocation would require a general contractor to perform the tenant improvement. After meeting with him and reviewing a set of plans that he gave me, I made a list of action items that needed to be addressed. He asked me to proceed with the items on the list so he could move forward. We communicated mostly through e-mail, as his schedule was quite hectic. In one e-mail to the property manager of the building he stated that I was his new "general contractor" and to provide me with any information that I requested to carry out the T.I. I have nearly 100 e-mail transmissions asking me to carry out various tasks necessary to get the plans ready to submit to the city. I invested nearly 40 hrs over a six week period getting an architect, structural engineer, meeting with him and his wife, the property manager to set the project in motion. Last Friday his wife sent me an e-mail, at 12:16 pm that I got at 2;15 pm. The e-mail is as follows:

Hi Ned,
After comparing quotes this is our best price and build time.
Can you meet this?
Total price:52,500
Start Date: 6/27 Finish Date: 7/8
Included:
HVAC- Relocate 12 air registers and 2 thermostats to accommodate new wall
4 passage doors & hardware
Base Boards
T-Bar Removal and Replacement
Steel framing upgrade required to attach/mount roll-up doors.
5M Liability Insurance
Thanks,
Jennifer

At 2:20 I sent her an e-mail asking for a face to face meeting with her and her husband. She said they were too busy to meet.

At 3:58 I got an e-mail informing me that she was going with another contractor.

Is there an "implied contract" here? Thanks for the help.

Ned
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Richard - Bizlaw replied 3 years ago.

bizlaw :

What was the discussion about your fees or costs for doing the work? What agreement was made in that regard? Other than your own time did you engage any other contractors to do the work?

Customer :

We discussed either me acting as a project manager or GC. The project manager required someone with a GC license run the job. Can you define "engage"?

bizlaw :

Discuss means did you tell him how much you would charge for doing the project or for the work you did in gathering information?

Customer :

He said he wanted to work with me and would give me the "first right of refusal" to match the lowest bid if it wasn't mine. My frustration stems from the fact that I did all the leg work in securing the architect, etc. as I stated earlier and then I have to match some guy that was given a set of plans that I worked on to get approval from the city and I have to match his number.......and then I was given less than two hours, on Friday afternoon, to put everything in place to start on Monday morning! Here is one of her e-mails outlining the situation:

Customer :

Hi Ned –

Sorry for being so aggressive and trying to go direct with your HVAC guy, I now know he is your sub and I should go through you to get his quote. The diminishing timeline is starting to become a major issue for me and the project team.

Here is a quick summary of where we are at:

1) We have a budget for the Demising Wall and Floor only

2) Offices will be quoted later when we have the budget. This should happen in the August time frame after we move in.

3) We need a quote for the D Wall only at this time

4) We have a floor guy that we can run through if you are the GC

5) We want to work with you, but need your quote TODAY to make the decision. We have one quote that came in today. Once we have both quotes we will choose the best overall quote. The decision will be based on COST, TERMS and COMPLETION DATE. If your quote meets these requirements, we have deal, if the other quote is more competitive, we will give you a chance to match it. You will not have to beat it.

6) We will not pursue your HVAC sub directly. If you are the GC for the Office project it is a non –issue. If you are not, we would pay you a referral fee if we wind up using him.

Please do what you can to get us the D Wall quote and schedule today. We need to make a decision in the next 24 hrs.

Thanks,

Jennifer

bizlaw :

Unfortunately, you left yourself open to where you have ended up. The fact that you developed all the plans and approaches would lead one to believe that you had the best chance to develop the lowest bid. In government contracts, a contractor with your position in developing the specs would be considered to have an unfair advantage. Had there been some ambiguity on what you were to be compensated for you might have a claim for the reasonable value of your services but given the terms under which you were engaged I do not see that being available.

If this answer is responsive to your question, please accept it. That is how we are compensated. I would also be appreciated if you provided feed back on your view of the answer. Finally, if the answer was especially helpful you can provide a bonus. If I can be of further assistance or you have other questions in the future you can ask for me and reach me at this site.

This communication is not intended as legal advice. A local attorney should always be consulted for legal advice. No client/attorney relationship is intended or created by this communication.

Customer :

Thanks, not what I wanted to hear, but I realized I set myself up for it by hearing what I wanted to hear. Ethically, I feel they were unfair. She said there were two contractors bidding the work and they would make a decision by the end of the weekend....she said we were both our numbers were really close which led me to believe I had a good competitive quote...after reviewing the bids over the weekend they realized they had bitten off more than they could chew and needed to get more bids...and I didn't hear from them until Friday afternoon with a start-up on Monday?then there were 4 contractors in the mix.. I have no problem with that...just look me in the eye and tell me what's going on. She asked me to lower my price 10K and include 19K in additional work....there was not 29K in profit in a 62K job! How do I know she wasn't playing poker with me? I KNOW the job can't be done for that!!!

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