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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 111655
Experience:  All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
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Thank you help. I am a general contractor. I had an estimate

Customer Question

Hello,
Thank you for your help. I am a general contractor. I had an estimate done by an electrical contractor. The contractor do the work as provided in the estimate which was somewhat vague but did say everything we talked about, all labor, materials, and equipment provided. After many struggles with this contractor they finally passed inspection 2 months later. The orginal estimate was never turned into a contract, there where never change orders or any indication that the price would change or any form of communication about this at all, verbal or written. Normally the contractor is paid 65% of the total amount estimated for the rough. During the work the contractor sent a bill for uncompleted work. After passing the Inspection I contacted this contractor to pay them the 65% which they then sent me a second bill for almost double the cost of the orginal 65% saying the would not sign the lien waiver so I could pay them the orginal 65% which is the only estimate I have ever received
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
If you had an estimate for work for them, an estimate is just that, a general cost for the work specified, which may change once the work is started based on actual costs or issues encountered. Once they provided the estimate and began the work a contract is formed and unless they can prove to you how the amount changed and why, the contract price is based on the estimate you were provided. So your first step here is to send them a letter demanding they provide proof of the cost over runs that changed the terms of the estimate they submitted to you. You need to inform them that unless they can prove some legitimate reason for the changes from the estimate, the cost of the job is as stated in their estimate, which is what you based your job billing on and if they refuse to sign off on the lien or refuse to settle the matter, you will sue them for breach of contract which the estimate became once they undertook the work and performed it without any notice or proof to you of why costs were more than their estimate provided for.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
We have sent that. They sent us a list of hours worked for approx $21K and a material cost of $2500.00. The hours worked are questionable at best. They say it took them twice as long to do the work then they anticipated as the job site was dirty. We asked them each day what we could move if they needed anything to help the process move faster and to accommodate them. The estimate was not based on hours worked.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
If they encountered matters that were not anticipated in their original estimate and can document that then their charges can be reasonable and it is now up to you to negotiate down with them. This is going to be a matter for negotiation based on the work done and also based on the fact they did not properly perform to get the inspection approved, which was not your fault. However, I am afraid if they refuse to negotiate a settlement amount on the bill, you would have no remaining option but to file suit against them for breach of contract and negligence in failing to get the inspection passed sooner.

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