Is it reasonable to demand a contractor's estimate in writing?

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Quick question. I am going to remodel my attic. I have yet to install the knee walls and the framing necessary prior to the installation of the electrical components. I want to get a firm quote on the electrical before I proceed with the framing. I got an estimate from an electirician to do all of the electrical, bring addn'l lines up from the basement etc. Several days after he visited my home he gave me a verbal estimate of the total cost over the phone. No real details were included. I then asked him to provide me with a written estimate. He declined. He said he wanted to wait until he was ready to start the job. I feel that he should be able to provide a written estimate of the costs now. Am I being unreasonable?
Thanks
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*Always* get these things in writing. However, maybe the guy wants to see the situation after you finish your part of the work. Once it's reached that point, if he still won't put it in writing, move on to the next person.
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Doug Kanter wrote:

He may not get a written estimate for this job. The first contractor would lose anyhow when you provide the written estimate to the second contractor and ask him to beat that price.
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Write your own specifications regarding the equipment, style, brand, model etc. of what you want him to install. Describe all the details. Have a floor plan showing where to install everything. Detail what items are to be on each breaker. Dimmers. Switched outlets. And so on. When he gives you a final price get him to write it on a copy of your specification sheet and have him sign it.

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In writing is best and recording work changes by phone a good back up. Often contractors will say " you missunderstood " if its a phone order, a recorded conversation saves you from that headache.
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You have every right to expect a quote in writing. You may expect the job to cost something close to the quote. You won't neccessarily get either.
A written contract detailing the work to be performed and the costs involved is not unreasonable for a project. You can also include time for completion etc etc etc. Any quote usually has an expiration date for acceptance.
Some contractors will pass on the job, some won't.
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It's called a "change order" and is written. Phone changes ain't worth the paper they're printed on.
Steve
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Maybe. Right now some materials are fluctuating in price a couple of times a day. One of my suppliers was not getting pricing from his mill (plastic wrap) until time of shipment, four weeks after a order was placed. Heck of a way to do business.
Perhaps the guy just wants to cover his ass in case materials change. I had a price on some electrical work six months ago. If I was going to proceed today, the materials have gone up 20% in some items. Not a big deal on adding a single receptacle, but huge on a major power increase with transformers and 1000A service.
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wrote:

Hey, let him "have at it". If he doesnt want to give you a written estimate, he may be working for you for free. He says $3000,....you say $2000. Without his estimate in writing no judge will grant him a thing. Bubba
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Nonsense. If there is no contract a judge will give him a fair market value for the time and materials he put into it. Let me rephrase that; a judge should... Judges, especially small claims judges, are capable of doing just about anything; without any regard to either the law or common sense.
So, it is certainly best to have a contract to avoid such problems. Let me rephrase that also, to reduce such problems; no way to avoid them.
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without something in writing will have a field day with that contractor. A contractor should know better and the judge will prove tha pointt by showing him an expensive lesson. However, you are correct in that a judge can also do whatever the hell pleases him. Thats why a contract is best. Bubba
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Bubba Dec 28, 5:50 pm show options
"Nonsense my ass. Any judge finding a legitimate contractor doing work without something in writing will have a field day with that contractor."
Toller is right. These cases wind up in court all the time. A written contract is an absolute requirement for a few things, real estate being one of them. For a home wiring job, it's certainly a good idea for everyone's benefit to have a written contract. But absent a written contract, you can still have a verbal contract. And if these two parties went ahead with this job, that's exactly what you would have. This stuff winds up in court all the time. And if the contractor has a witness and the homeowner doesn't, guess who's likely to win. And if the judge can't decide who to believe, he will still likely award what he believes to be a fair value for the job.Why anyone would think a tradesman deserves to be stiffed, is beyond me. It's not like there aren't lots of shyster homeowner's around too, that are looking for a deal and then wind up trying to cut a better one when the work is done.
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Bubba wrote:

A verbal contract is just as binding as a written one. It all depends on who the judge believes. And when the contractor shows up with actual jobs for similar work for $3000 and says "judge, why in the world would I quote 2000 when I know it would cost me $3000", the judge would probably have a hard time not believing him, especially when it's your turn to testify UNDER OATH (doesn't that mean anything anymore?) and you keep changing your story because you're lying through your teeth.
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... : : A verbal contract is just as binding as a written one. It all depends : on who the judge believes. And when the contractor shows up with : actual jobs for similar work for $3000 and says "judge, why in the : world would I quote 2000 when I know it would cost me $3000", the judge : would probably have a hard time not believing him, especially when it's : your turn to testify UNDER OATH (doesn't that mean anything anymore?) : and you keep changing your story because you're lying through your : teeth.
So, it's up to a judge to decide who he believes (that would be small claims court; a preponderance of the evidence): Sooo, just how is THAT better than a written, signed contract detailng the work? It's not.
Nonsense.
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"Hey, let him "have at it". If he doesnt want to give you a written estimate, he may be working for you for free. He says $3000,....you say $2000. Without his estimate in writing no judge will grant him a thing. Bubba "
I don't know what legal theory this is based on. If this winds up in court after the work is done, with a dispute over how much the job was supposed to cost, a judge most certainly will award the guy something. How could it be fair to let a homeowner just walk and have the work done for free? And if the contractor has a witness to the verbal contract and the homeowner doesn't, guess who he's probably gonna believe.
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I agree with this person:
"Write your own specifications regarding the equipment, style, brand, model etc. of what you want him to install. Describe all the details. Have a floor plan showing where to install everything. Detail what items are to be on each breaker. Dimmers. Switched outlets. And so on. When he gives you a final price get him to write it on a copy of your specification sheet and have him sign it."
I can also tell you that you are not likely to get a written estimate on small jobs. Something verbal or a number written on the back of a business card. They don't have the time to do anything detalied just for something like that. You need to specify exactly what they are doing (how many receptacles, how many light switches, or even what their ball park esitmate was.
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On 28 Dec 2005 15:34:11 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

What theory? Actual experience. I installed a furnace for a customer and I had a signed estimate. It comes time to pay and the guy says, "Nope, dont want to". ?? He had no complaint with anything. Finally the lawyers hashed it out and we settled on 2/3rds or the original estimate and we had to pay our own lawyer fees. That brought it down to 1/3rd the original quote. Finally heard his complaint was the price was too high. It wasnt. Just shows you that between a judge and a goofy customer, anything can happen. Is that, "theory enough" for you trader? Bubba
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wrote:

How about the fact that in a state that requires you to be licenced, and you are not, you can get away with allowing the guy to do the work, and when its time to pay, you tell him to get out and there really isnt a damn thing he can do about it.
All you guys that want cheap, hire a local non licenced hack, and go on and get your HVAC system replaced with a top of the line Goodman (lol) and get ALL your wiring replaced and all your water lines replaced too...make sure he knows you are not paying a thing till hes done, and then, dont.
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Bubba Dec 28, 10:45 pm What theory? Actual experience. I installed a furnace for a customer and I had a signed estimate. It comes time to pay and the guy says, "Nope, dont want to". ?? He had no complaint with anything. Finally the lawyers hashed it out and we settled on 2/3rds or the original estimate and we had to pay our own lawyer fees. That brought it down to 1/3rd the original quote. Finally heard his complaint was the price was too high. It wasnt. Just shows you that between a judge and a goofy customer, anything can happen. Is that, "theory enough" for you trader? Bubba "
You made the assertion that a judge would not award anything to a oontractor who did a job without a contract and didn't get paid. What does this experience have to do with that? Apparently you did get paid something by agreeing to a settlement out of court, which instead of supporting your position, tends to refute it. Are you conflicted?
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On 29 Dec 2005 09:30:37 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Damn trader, .....you can be dense at times. Now pay attention and I'll run through it a little clearer. Im a contractor. I had a legit signed contract and still got fudged on my total amount due me. Now......... Think of what Id have gotten if I had absolutely no contract whatsoever? My lawyer wouldnt even have let that one get to court. He'd still be laughing and the homeowner would have a nice new free furnace. Are you following along now? Does that make it any clearer. Verbal contracts here dont work. I cant explain it any clearer. Now, are you conflicted or confused? Go lick a window. It might help. Bubba
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