Provisional Sums for plumbing - how to handle shock bill

Back at the sart of our house extension project, the builder included provisional sums in his price for plumbing and electrics. Plumbing was about 3k which he assured us was generous.
Now, as we near the end of the project, he informs us that his plumber will need twice this amount. What's the best way to handle this? We are shocked and furious that this wasn't mentioned earlier. (The plumber did visit to discuss our plans months ago, but never mentioned this. same for the builder.)
Any advice very welcome.
David
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If all the plans were discussed well in advance, then you're told that the costs have doubled over this period, I'd be very suspicious and ask for a break down on the prices for all the materials and time / labour costs that are going to be involved.
You haven't added anything to the build in that time, have you ?
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I had the same (albeit the original estimate was 500 and he charged 1000). I don't know what happened during your build but it is very easy to lose site of the fact that the provisional estimates are for the bare minimum and you should never forget this - every little thing that's extra will be charged for.
In my case the estimate (as my builder pointed out) was for extending the heating system to one radiator upstairs and one downstairs (the extension being one up and one down) with manual valves. By the time I had finished it was two radiators downstairs, two upstairs and a towel rail (fitting only) plus Drayton TRV's on all the new radiators. When he put it like that, the increase seemed quite reasonable. All the other building costs were exactly as he said, including the electric which was bang on the provisional estimate.
If you have had a lot more than what would be the bare minimum, you are happy with everything else the builder has done and what he charged for it, it may be a genuine case of the plumber getting his just rewards for what he has done. If he is bumping up the prices all round and you have only got the bare minimum, you should, at least, ask for a breakdown of the costs. My builder offered one but, after we had talked, it seemed reasonable to pay.
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A provisional sum should be spent at the discretion on the client. I know irt is too late but what you should have done once you had awarded the contract or even before if you want is to specify exactly what you want and ask for a price before agreeing. The Prov Sums are there top assist in the tender process and really should be specified by you at the outset. You may not know what bathroom fittings you want at tender stage so you should state to all tenderers allow X as a PSum for the plumbing and heating. When you find your contractor you then have time to specify what you want As it was a provisional sum all you can now ask is for a breakdown of the invoice and see if it is fair.
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Did you let the contract on any formal contract conditions or was it done via a builder's quote and nothing else? If it was the former then there are normally provisions for dealing with the authorisation and payment of provisional sums. As Mike says, provisional sums should be specified and driven by the client and cover items of work that are unknown at commencement of the work, and clarified and priced accordingly as the work progresses. Did your original specification include a breakdown, even approximate, of what plumbing work was required? You should get a breakdown of the costs and see if that relates to what was actually provided.
Did you make interim payments to the builder as the work progressed - if so did you receive interim invoices from the builder - did they mention anything about payments against the provisional sums? (so you could see how the provisional sums were being "eaten up")
Even if eventually the costs turn out to be fair compared to the work done, it was pretty poor for the builder to leave that "surprise" right to the end. It sounds as if his plumber has landed him with the bill and he's just passed it onto you!
Paul
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Following an initial builder's quotation (which listed provisional sums separately), we prepared a detailed room-by-room spec which we sat down and discussed and agreed with the builder. We then cross-referred to this spec in a JCT Minor Works Contract which we and the builder signed.
Builder assured us his provisional sums were generous for the work in the original plans he quoted against.
Although the JCT contract records staged payments, the provisional sums were rolled up into the total figure he'd quoted. Are there provisions for such sums in the JCT contract?

We've asked numerous times to be told whether the provisional sums would be adequate. Builder always said last thing he wanted was to 'surprise' us. Nevertheless, that's exactly what appears to be happening.

Yes, detailed room-by-room. Basically we were after rads in all new rooms plus a Megaflow tank in airing cupboard. (We even supplied our own taps and shower fitments which I guess should reduce the final bill!)

Have now requested this.

No mention of prov sums in these invoices.

Exactly. Is there any way we can refuse payment in light of this unprofessionalism?
DG
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David,
I'm no legal expert but if your original spec set out clearly what you wanted in terms of plumbing and you've got what you asked for (and this is supported by the plumbers final breakdown) then I would start by asking the builder to justify the increases over and above his "generous" provisional sum provisions.
The problem is of course is that the builder could always maintain that the plumbing costs were always provisional right up to the time the final invoice was prepared for the work. The fact that his "generous" provisional sums were miles out requires some degree of explanation. The appearance seems to be that the plumber, knowing that no fixed cost has been agreed for the work, is at liberty to charge what he likes and just present the bill at the end. This is certainly unprofessional and unethical of the builder and the plumber to do this - but has he broken any contractual term? I don't know. I'm not that familiar with the JCT MW Agreement, but I assume there must be some mechanism to deal with disputes? Anybody know?
Paul

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Just curious to know.... What does 6k get you?
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