Bathroom remodel cost overrun - How would you handle?

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I had a contractor remodel/update my bathroom. We settled on a budget not to exceed $9000. After the work commenced, we offered to pay cash which he said would get us about a 25% discount on labor...so, we should easily come in under our maximum budget (we were thinking). Along the way, some changes were agreed to which we realize adds cost and was accounted for. I was to do all of the finish work which took me about 35 hours (prime and paint walls and ceiling and clear grout haze off shower and floor). In addition, he took 2.5 months when other contractors were giving an estimate of 2.5 - 3 weeks. On the plus side, he build to a Code-Plus standard and did some fantastic work.
Here's the problem. When the final bill was presented, it turns out that he was 65% over the original budget of $9000 - and we thought we would be under budget with a cash discount.
Is it common for small remodel jobs to be so far over budget and take so long for a job that I did all the finish work? Do I have any recourse? Keep in mind the final project is fantastic but the sticker shock, the duration of the project and what we thought was a cash discount didn't seem to matter. Thoughts?
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You dont say what the extra work was or how much you agreed to pay for the extra work. .
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Miles_kramer informs us that:

$9K for a bathroom?????!!! Around here (NoVA) unless you're talking about a complete replumbing job/down to the studs remodel, with premium finishes like marble, 6ftx3ft jacuzzi in an 8x15 bathroom, that's one heckuva budget.
'Course I'm of the school that a bathroom is for a S^3, not for lounging.

Heh. The only way you'll get a 25% cash discount on labor is if you pay the laborer directly and under the table.

How accounted for?

Yoicks, this must be a football field sized bathroom. 35 hours?

You got, you should excuse the expression, fscked. Unless you ran into major structural problem a bathroom remodel, even down to the studs should take two weeks minimum, even allowing for fixture delivery.

and did some fantastic work.
At $9K not only should he have done fantastic work he should've offered you a shot at his wife, ferchrissakes.

of $9000 -
Uh, lemme do the math. 1.65x9K=, er, fumble (ahfugedaboutit, callit) $14K.
$14K?!?!!!! Jeezum crow, I did my kitchen for $15K, including appliances. I _finished_ my basement for $20K. You got stuck like a pig unless you went for thousand dollar fixtures (obref: unionhardware.com).

Hahahahahahah. . . oops, sorry, don't mean to laugh at your misfortune.

It all depends on the contract you signed. I had to fire my kitchen remodel contractor and finish the work myself. HE went waaay over the estimated time limit by two months but due to nonperformance I was able to return the fsck by cancelling and offering to sue (SOB sent me a cabinet hanger who bitched about his own self-hung cabinets "sliding off the wall"). He ran.
Basement took longer than estimated but only by 1/4. Even with an upgrade it came it just about budget. Some things were cheaper than estimated, some were a little more.
Bottom line is what did the contract specify? Was it cost-plus or time and materials?
If you're happy S^3'ing in your new bathroom and the overrun isn't going to hurt you cash-wise I'd say sit down and enjoy your quality time. Buyer's remorse leads to hemerrhoids, or so I'm informed.
Best,
Marc
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Changing Usenet access account....

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like
The $9k budget was only to tear out a 3'x3' fiberglass shower, replace it with a custom built tile shower approx. the same size. Tile was ~$4.15/s.f. Floor was tiled as well. Small water closet was torn out to open up the space. Shower fixture was a wall unit. No cabinets, countertops or anything but a toilet. However the room is 12' X 20'.

the
We did.

I should clarify. There were about $1100 in extras and we bumped up the accepted budget by an equal amount. to $10,100. He still came in 65% OVER the revised, or $11,100 budget.

The tile had a slight texture to it and had to be scrupped with an acid solution 4 times - that took most of the time.

major
two
Some days he and a laborer would only work a couple of hours and other days longer but that was agreed to upfront - contractor originally said it would reduce our cost by working with his flexible schedule.

you a

Dammit, he's single. I like the way you think though.

$14K.
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Here's were we went wrong..no contract. Word of mouth only (thus the cash offer).

to
Humm, let me sit down and think about that....what's that itching in my butt!
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On Tue, 29 Jul 2003 20:08:53 GMT, "charliekilo"
(snip for brevity -- what to do if $10,100 project with no written estimate or contract comes in at $16,000 and change.)
Hi Miles,
I do kitchens, baths and basement development for a living. I can see a 12 x 20 room with a custom tile shower coming in at $6 - 9,000, depending on all kinds of things. Depending on the tile and faucets and how much drywall and how much reframing and what had to be done to prep the floor and so on ... I'm not as certain as some that the original $9,000 was all that extravagent a price.
What does surprise me is the length of the job (two to three weeks is more than adequate even for the most major bath renovation) and the "discount for cash" (real contractors don't do cash deals, too much to lose) -- I can only surmise he was moonlighting from a regular or irregular job.
As to where things stand now, you need legal, not construction, advice. Forget newsgroups -- they're fun and often helpful -- but you need to know how the law applies to your situation in your jurisdiction in your exact circumstances. Spend a couple of hundred with a lawyer so that you * know* exactly what your options are, and what potential gains and consequences flow from them.
Then, deal with your contractor from a position of strength.
I can guess what a professional would do .... but your guy does not sound like a professional.
Ken
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I read you don't have a contract, but what's the situation now?
Is the work all done and now he wants a final payment that includes the 65% overage? If so, what is his explanation? Does he admit that he agreed to $11,100 after the extras?
Or did you pay him as he did the work, and now that you add it all up, it comes to 65% more than $11,100?
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wrote:

Yes. His explanation is that the work is superior to any other contractor would do and he put in extra time to make it that way. Hard to argue with because it's a bit "fuzzy." Granted he did a great job but when we first discussed the job - I said I wanted "code-plus" work. He agreed to do that with our budget of $9k.

Paid as the job progressed but final payment of about 20% is still payable. When we were presented with the final job summary (which showed the $18,300) total - I was shocked. That was two weeks ago and I paid some more of the balance but as time is progressing, I'm getting more torqued off.
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Remodeling magazine reported that the average mid-range bathroom remodel in the DC Metro area (which includes NoVA) is $8,535. "Upscale" bathroom remodels averaged $20,756
http://www.remodeling.hw.net/pages/remodelingonline/Story.nsp?story_id 00027500&ID=newsreal&scategory=Computers&type=break
-- Jennifer
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On 29 Jul 2003 19:28:46 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (MrAoD) wrote:

I really gotta move up North again. Locally, you're lucky if $9,000 buys the tub...
Jeff
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Make sure he itemizes all of the costs -- were the costs justified? In the end you have little recourse -- you agreed to increases in the budget and he moved forward with your changes.
Whether or not this was justified depends entirely upon what you got for the bucks and what market you are residing in as well. I live in Cincinnati (the Midwest). We started a bathroom project that ended up getting out of control -- had to rip out the bathroom, closet, and adjoining bedroom, the subfloor and underlayment, plumbing, and electrical when all we had planned to do was repair the floor under the bathroom and insert a new tub. Our initial budget was about a grand and it was ALL to be DIY. In the end we put out about 5 grand -- lumber alone was $800.
Bear in mind, this was a complete DIY project and it's in the Midwest. We put in a new subfloor and underlayment, half a dozen joists, 2 walls, tub/toilet/cabinet/sink and associated fixtures, drywall and supplies, tile, and so forth. However, even with all that if we had hired someone to do it and did the finish work ourselves I'd suspect we would have come in just under your budget of $9000. Take this same project and move it out to LA though and you'd be talking $15,000 or more.
FWIW....
James
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the
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Changes were agreed to and the budget increased accordingly. He exceeded the revised budget by 65% (eg. original budget $9k, with changes $11,100. He exceeded $11,100 by 65%!)

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We're in a pretty high cost of living area but the original budget was agreed to upfront as a ceiling. (See above comment about additions to the project).
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the
Ouch. Was this all in writing?

If you're in a high cost-of-living area then the numbers should come as no surprise IF the quality of the work and materials equals out.
If you have the budget numbers in writing, talk to an attorney. Bearing in mind that using the legal system to address your matter means time and possibly more $$$ than the difference, you may also want to approach the contractor -- he may be willing to flex and knock off some of the bill to avoid any issues and keep you happy, that's just good business.
Either way I'd still talk to the contractor -- I've been on both sides of that equation (I perform a variety of high-end computer consulting tasks) and found it much better to work things out privately.
James
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What happened to you should have occurred in the bedroom, not the bathroom.

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2 1/2 months for a bathroom remodel? wow, it must be a huge bathroom.
at $9000 he didn't make any money, even with the overage. pay the poor bastard his $15 per hr.
he will soon be out of business at those rates.
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You embark on a five figure project and don't even have a formal contract or written agreement?? Unbelievable!!! (Verbal contracts are legally binding but almost impossible to carry out due to the "he said/she said" factor.)
You better just sit down with the contractor and negotiate a settlement. If you don't than he could probably put a mechanic's lien on your property, assumming he filed the appropriate "right to lien" paperwork for your area. If he didn't happen to do this, than you might want to wait for him to make the first move since he has no other out to recieving payment.
You're generally beyond the amount for small claims court, so litigation will be very expensive.
The 25% discount for cash should have been your first warning sign to avoid this person. Maybe after you settle, you should inform the IRS or submit a W9 form for the amount you paid him in cash!!! (poetic justice)
Your situation should be a warning sign for everyone on how not to enter into a construction project.
miles snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Miles) wrote in message

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A little background, we known him and his family. He was in the military for 10 years and is currently attend university in our town. His family has a large well respected (high-end) home renovation company in a major nearby city. The company has been around for more than 40 years. He does contracting jobs part-time while in school (thus us agreeing to the time schedule and cash payment) and have seen several of his projects while he has been doing this. But, I like the idea of filing a W9 - I'm a big fan of poetic justice. :)
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First of all it is completely unacceptable if contractor notifies you after the fact that he has exceeded previously agreed upon budget. He should have notified you BEFORE starting any work that would have increased final cost. It is true that not always it is possible to foresee all difficulties and obstacles before the project actually starts. But again, contractor must notify you when those problems are discovered before doing any adjustment to the contract and cost. I personally wouldn't pay him a dime more ten you initially settled to pay for the project. The fact he demanded cash and possible paid under the table makes contract illegal (I would also ask if he has license) so I don't think he may put legal action against you. BTW, $9K does not seem to be a lot of money at least in Central NJ where I live. I am currently building a bathroom in basement. Initially I planned to hire a plumber to relocate several gas and water pipes and install sewage ejector assuming I break the concrete for the ejector pit and trenches for DWV pipes and provide the pump itself. Estimation - $6500. So I had to do everything myself.
I also wonder if $9K includes materials and fixtures or labor cost only?

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About 66% of the budget was for labor - we didn't replace many fixtures - only the shower and toilet. The cabinets, sinks, countertops, faucets, and tub all stayed in place.
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Do you by chance have any before and after pictures? I'm admittedly curious here -- you talk about how fantastic the final result was and all that, but then you say something like the above and I immediately wonder -- what did this guy actually DO in the bathroom?
James
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but
I dunno -- maybe it's because I do all my own work, but I still haven't heard anything that comes close to $9,000 let alone $18,000, and certainly nothing that takes 2-3 months to complete. I completely tore out or bathroom and redid it from scratch -- floors, walls, and everything -- and didn't come close to those price tags.
Wow.
James
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