What is a fair price adjustment?

I hired someone to do some demolition of my house, tear down wood paneling, remove existing doors, wall paper, old linoleum floor, carpets etc... and part of it included ripping down all tiled and mirror walls in four bathrooms.
He gave me an estimate and we signed a contract.
Now he is in the middle of demo of the bathrooms, and bear in mind the house is over 30 years old, all the bathrooms are tiled from floor to ceiling, every inch of it. I believe he assumed these to be drywall or cement board with tiles over it, just rip them out. Now we found out these are very thick thinset or stucco (almost three inches thick) with wire mesh in them. Obviously this makes it harder to remove than just sheet rock or cement boards, it also add quite a bit of debris to be processed and disposed of.
He asked me about adjusting the contract price to account for this.
I thought this is fair because it is added work, but a part of me thought he should have investigated more before he provided an estimate to me, since I was going to gut the place, I gave him plans, dimensions, I invited him to punch holes in ceilings and walls anywhere he wants, I told him he can rip up carpets to see if something else is underneath, anything he needs to know ahead of time he is free to probe, so he should take part of the responsibility.
Now the question is, how do you come up with a fair adjustment? How much added work is involved in demolition of four bathrooms - thick thick thinset stucco wire mesh versus sheet rock?
Thanks,
MC
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On 23 Aug, 11:11, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

I feel your pain!
The tough guy in me says "I gave you the opportunity to spec the job by drilling holes and pulling carpet. We agreed on a price, now go do the work." The wimp in me says "If I push this, he'll screw me one way or another and *somehow* I'll end up paying for it the long run."
My suggestion would be to nicely mention the "tough guy - we have a contract" point but give him the opportunity to make an offer. Perhaps a fair trade-off is for you to cover the extra disposal fees but not his extra labor. However, the question here is: Will there actually be any additional disposal costs or do you already have a dumpster that can handle the extra debris?
My guess is he'll present an offer knowing that you'll discount it, so I suggest you keep that in mind and not pay him the same rate for the additional work as for the original contract. It should cost him *something* since he spec'd the job incorrectly.
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Is there a provision in the contract for adjustment?
If not, he's on the hook, but if his price was fair to begin with, and you think he's incurring additional labor and removal expense, it seems fair to compensate him.
Some contractors likely build a significant cushion for unanticipated extras; I'd prefer to deal with a contractor who was honest with his estimate, with some acknowledged flexibility down the road where necessary.
Good luck.
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I just "refinished" a table for someone. I thought the paint would come off easier. I didn't notice it was so badly warped that it would take forever to flatten. Under all the crud I didn't see the gouges that had to be filled and color matched. It took me 3 times as long as I figured. That is my tough luck; I should have examined it better. I am not asking for an adjustment in price, and wouldn't accept one if offered.
If he planned on stucco and it turned out to be drywall, was he going to charge you less? I don't think so.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:
...

...
...
If the job ended up easier than he thought, would he reduce the price? Did he get the job because he underbid other contractors who factored in a reserve for unanticipated work? Who wrote the contract and the work description?
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On Aug 23, 10:11 am, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Would he lower his price, for your benefit, if part of the job suddenly went real easy and faster than he anticipated?
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Are you sure he did not know before, what did your other bidders state. You dont have to pay for his stupidity but if you know it was not bid share some of the loss, he should loose a bit and learn from his mistakes. Ive had customers refuse me on these issues and some not. It also depends on what he is making off you per hour, and what he pays for labor. Did you get a copy of his Worker Comp and Liability from his broker, not from him? If he is uninsured, you are completely liable if he or his workers hurt themselves or your house. Get his insurance papers and think about it awhile. I know some contractors that make a point of getting "extras" just to get more money. Is he lisenced, does he have complaints registered, How many times has he been sued in court, You should have found the answers to these questions before you hired him.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Obviously, this "contractor" has not had much experience. Mortar with the cupped wire was common for tile installations on walls. He should have had language in the contract, to protect himself, and you. Anyone that has any knowledge of construction, knows you can't give a price for unforeseen problems such as pipes/wires/rot/mortar etc.
It's puzzling, of why you would have to provide dimensions for him. Unless, he couldn't read a tape.
I would get rid of this handyman, and search for someone knowledgeable with this type of construction. There are several reasons, one being if he starts hammering out the walls, he's sure to crack the plaster/lathe, or whatever is on the adjoining room walls.
Next time, don't try to get away cheap. Hire someone with experience.
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On Thu, 23 Aug 2007 08:11:59 -0700, nmbexcuse wrote:

Really good posts here. But havent heard this idea yet.
Give him the opportunity to void the contract and find someone else. Sounds like he is inexperienced and it might benefit you to find someone with more experience. Might cost a bit more but might be done better.
take care,
--
coffee
Linux Registered User #449534
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Apparently you were satisfied with his price and his qualifications.

So, he went ahead with the job instead of bringing it to your attention at that time, and asking for a change order? Shows he thought he could do SOME extra work and stick to his price.

Proper thing to do. Most would have stopped work.

So tell him he screwed up, and ask what HE thinks would be fair. He may quote a low price that surprises you. If he's high, decide if you want him to finish or not. If you haven't paid him yet (and I hope you haven't), you have some leverage here.

That's hard to say, so I'll just say a LOT more.

Steve
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It's not extra work. The contract called for ripping down the tile walls in 4 bathrooms. That is what he contracted to do. And from what the OP has stated there is no contract provision that says he gets to ask for extra because it turned out to be harder than expected.

IF the contractor stopped work, then he would be in default on the contract. He doesn't have the right to stop the work just because it turned out to be harder.

And as someone else pointed out, if the contractor had thought the job was based on tearing out walls of tile over lath and mortar and it turned out to be just drywall, would he be giving the homeowner a LOT of money back?
Contractors taking these jobs know that some will turn out harder, some will turn out easier, when they give a price quote.
Bottom line, I would consider what price this contractor charged versus other quotes. If he was low and is doing a great job, then I'd consider giving him some additional money at the end of the job, when it's all done, as a bonus.

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<snipped>
In certain situations I agree with every reply you have received to this point.
To answer your question, tearing out a wire reinforced mortar set wall and floor was one of the worst jobs I ever did. There is quite a bit more to landfill both in weight and volume. The additional labor is 2-3 times as much. You tear it out in smaller pieces and pick them up the same way.
Should he have caught it and will he next time? He will if he stays in the business. Every time I have screwed myself, I have sucked it up and called it education. Then went on to finish the job to the same standard I always do. Not all contractors do it that way.
Now the poster who said " The wimp in me says "If I push this, he'll screw me one way or another and *somehow* I'll end up paying for it the long run."" is 100% correct. He wasn't being a "wimp", he was being a realist. If you are going to continue this relationship some type of adjustment may be in order or you will pay for it somewhere with most contractors.
The poster who suggested paying for some extra dump fees might be a fair compromise also gave good advise.
Good luck.
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The poster who called himself a "wimp" and the poster who suggested paying for some extra dump fees was one and the same - me! You mean I got 2 things right in the same post? ;-)
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