1. His estimates were inaccurate, and some of his sources for material and labor ended up charging him more than he expected.
2. We bothered him with a lot of changes and supervision.
3. Our house is worth a lot more than we're paying him.
4. The house too him longer to build than he expected, and so he had to pay a lot more for labor than he expected.
Here are my answers to him on each of the four issues:
1. Regarding his costs exceeding his estimates... We had an oral agreement in the beginning that once we agreed on a project and accepted his bid that the bid would not change--up or down. If we made changes (we did make minor changes), we would be responsible for our changes. If market prices on materials were to fall, we agreed that he would enjoy the savings, but if prices went up, he would suffer the extra charges. He called this "locking in," and that is one of the main reasons we went with this contractor. On the detailed written bid he provided us, and which we subsequently accepted, he even wrote his "lock in" promise at the bottom--a few sentences. Other than these written documents and or oral contract, we have no official contract with him.
2. Regarding his claim that we bothered him with changes and supervision... He never once discouraged this or said that there would be extra charges, other than the cost of the actual changes, which we are agreeing to pay--$7,000 for specific changes bringing the total due up to $60,000. But he wants $73,000! As for his claim that we bothered him with a lot of supervision and faxed notes... He never discouraged this, and the only reason for the close supervision and notes was because his crew made a *LOT* of mistakes that had to be corrected. The work was very substandard. All of this is documented. I think our supervision and notes actually helped them get through the job and finish it the way we intended it to be finished. They were very unprofessional.
3. Regarding his claim that our house is worth a lot so we should pay a lot... Why should we be penalized because we came up with a great design and made wise choices for materials and features? He offered us a bid in the beginning, and we accepted. Now, because the house is very attractive (mostly because of the land and neighborhood), why should he be entitled to more money? His complaint is that he didn't charge enough initially, and now he's going to lose at least $30,0000, and that we should have to pay for his losses because our house only cost us $290,000 and it's worth about $450,000. First of all, I think it's worth $350,000 at the most, and even if it was worth $450,000, that would be like a mechanic complaining because he sold us an engine for $5,000 and we put it in a car we bought for $7,000, and now that car is now worth $20,000--too bad, right?
4. Regarding his claim that the house took longer to build than expected... Isn't that his fault? The reason it took longer is because his crew are slow, lazy, and inept. They made a lot of mistakes that they had to fix. Likewise, everything based on time cost about double--the dumpster, the crane, etc. In fact, this actually cost us money, because we paid four months longer than expected on our construction loan without being able to live in the house--shouldn't we be entitled for some compensation for that?
This is all causing us a lot of stress, and it sounds like it's going to cost us a lot of legal fees now, too. I feel violated. What can we do? Please advise. Any helpful information would be greatly appreciated.