New front walkway - pricing?

I'm impressed by the thoughtful advice you guys provide in this group and am hoping you can advise me here. My home had a 78-year old front stoop, steps and walkway that was shoddily done to begin with and was finally crumbling into ruins. Viewed from the front, the steps were crooked from left to right, and the top step in front of the stoop was way too low, causing everyone who exited the front door to nearly break their neck on the way down. My contractor agreed to fix this and did so, beautifully. However, when he handed me the bill, it was almost two thousand dollars higher than the top figure of the price range he had quoted in writing (the price depended on the cost of the materials I chose, and the bluestone and brick that I chose was well within the agreed-upon range). The contractor then explained, AFTER THE FACT, that the front landing also was not square to the front door, that he had to add six inches of concrete to one side to make it even, add a frame to hold the additional concrete, and that he had to do this over a period of days to let each layer of concrete dry before adding more. In addition, when he evened up the little stairs and the other end of the walkway, he felt he had to add one more stair and did so, also without discussing it with me first. (I thought the three existing steps were fine.) At no time before or during the job did he tell me about these problems. Had I known, I might have said no due to the additional cost, downsized the job, or cut back on other repairs that I also was doing at the time. For all you contractors out there, what is the fair thing to do? The front stoop and stairs were open, obvious, and easily measureable all along -- this was not a case of discovering HIDDEN problems that needed to be rectified before the job could continue. If the front stoop was not even with the doorway and an additional step was required, I think that he should have seen that when he first looked at the site and then taken it into consideration when preparing a quote for me. Even if he missed it, he should have discussed it with me when he first became aware of it and gotten my ok to do the extra work. Also, our town is extraordinarily strict about changes to the exterior of the house (a fact about which I had previously informed him) and I might have been required to file and receive approval for this change from the town's real estate planning board first. First, my contractor unquestionably did a superior job in the actual construction and produced a thing of beauty. I am very happy with the cosmetic result. However, I don't think he should help himself to a few extra thousand dollars of my money without my express prior approval. I carefully budgeted this repair and feel that he should honor his original written quote because the extra charge is due entirely to his planning mistake and, later, his lack of proper communication. Whenever I have had other work done on the house, the people are very careful to stop work, inform me of unanticipated circumstances, and get my ok to possible higher charges before continuing, a courtesy that I both expect and truly appreciate. I often agree to go ahead. However, this huge additional bill after the fact nearly gave me a heart attack. I really cannot afford it. Also, is it ethical for him to present me with a bill almost 40% higher than the top range of his written quote without having gotten my approval for the extra work and price increase first? Second, I now have to inform the town about it and may have to tear it out. Not only do I NOT want to pay the extra charge, but I feel I should subtract the cost of any additional alterations the town may require from his bill. Do you agree, and what is your advice for the best way to handle this?
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As the English would say, this is highly irregular. I would tell him you are thrilled with the job, would like to use his talents for future work, but since you had a formally agreed price, and no notice of any extra work, and what work he did was not unknown at the time of the estimate, you will pay him the agreed price. It really comes down to whether you want him to work for you again. Once you express unwillingness to pay *his* price, he will likely say " OK let's split the difference - 20 per cent over the estimate" . So get ready for that, and think hard about whether you have some flexibility/willingness to pay over the written estimate. I'm no lawyer, but if you pay the original price, he as no legal basis for getting a penny more, even if his view of the work was outside the scope of the written agreement. I would completely steer clear of any arguments about town zoning concerns for added changes, as that is ultmately your responsibility, not his.
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Pay the extra couple thousand, and give the man a $500 tip. It's only money

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First, tell him that you are concerned that additional work was done without your consent, and that you are going to have to run it by the town board. Express to him that while you think he did a superior job as the end result, there is a possibility it may have to be ripped out and redone according to town specs, so you need tim to determine the next step.
Presuming it looks as good as you say, it's really unlikely you'll need to have it all redone. In this case, he is entitled to the top end of the range he quoted.
If it has to be ripped out, he is probably liable for the damages you incur. Consult a lawyer if this comes to pass.
I'm no lawyer so I can't advise you on your rights. Common sense tells me that failing to get consent for changes in the work scope is a bad business practice. Tell him that you might have agreed to some additional charges had they been discussed with you in advance, so you could plan for them, but in the end you have a written contract and no change orders for him to use.
Marc
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One can only wonder where the owner was when this was all being done. I can see how some extra concrete pours could not be obvious, but surely adding another step had to be.
At this point, I surely wouldn't go running to any regulatory authority for retroactive approval of changes. Your position should be you just did repairs, end of story. Unless it's something very obvious and that someone would object to, it's unlikely to bring any attention. On the other hand, if you point it out, you do run the risk of them making you redo the whole thing. And if that happens, it's going to be at your expense, so I don't see the advantage to looking for trouble before it finds you.
With the contractor, a lot depends on what the quote says. If it clearly states a max price and accurately describes what was to be done, then I would tell the contractor that is all you think you should pay. Since he did a great job, at that point, you could negotiate and pay him a few hundred more perhaps, but not the full $2K. As long as you haven't paid him, you're in a good position. The worst he could do is sue you in small claims court.
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