We do not have a contract, except an oral contract that the accepted
bid would not change unless we made changes, and then only the costs
related to the change would be added to the bid. It was explicitly
state, orally, that market prices would not affect the bid once we
"locked in." The only prices that could change would be for our
subcontractors, and we subcontracted with them directly. There is no
written contract, unless you consider the bid a contract, which is
just a bulleted list of materials and labor with prices and a total.
At the bottom of the list and below the total is a statement that
says, more or less, that changes to the design will cause costs to be
added to the bid, but that otherwise the bid is just that, a bid, a
quoted price to do the job. There is no "performance bond." Nothing
was ever filed with the register of deeds or any other government
agency, except a septic plan and a building permit, neither of which
mention prices, contracts, etc. It was the most unprofessional joke
I've ever seen, but we trusted them, because it's such a small town
that we didn't think they would be stupid enough to commit contractor
suicide and try to screw over a high profile custom like us. We built
in the most affluent neighborhood in town. Well, they can pretty much
assume no one else building out here will ever hire them for
anything. They'll have to go back to $140K hillbilly ranch "spec
wipe your ass with the oral contract, oh yeah that's right , it ain't on
Pay him and be dome with it.
$13k is less than a lawyer.
You will never "win" with an oral contract.
Count your loss and be done with it and enjoy your home.
Or , come back in 2 years and $25k later in attorney fees telling me I'm
Sorry I forgot something.
Since your dumb as a rock I should also tell you to have a lawyer make the
payment, after he signs a lien waiver and a contractors affidavit stating
that there are no liens and everyone is paid in full.
On Jun 23, 6:20 pm, email@example.com wrote:
So let me get this straight. You're building a $290,000 house with no
contract, no architect, and no engineer -- and you're calling the
CONTRACTOR bad. This is a problem you're bring on yourself.
I don't have any idea what the law is in your state, but in NYS it is
awfully difficult to enforce a written contract. In fact, it might
even be unenforceable because it's re land.
If you have a quote, and it is accepted, and signed by both parties,
you're in a better situation. You can claim that it is a de facto
contract. That, a lawyer, and a bundle of money might be able to
solve your problem.
Your only option is to try to starve him out. He wants the last
payment and is willing to sue you for additional funds. Well he might
as well sue you for the whole amount. I think your only option is to
not pay him anything, then offer him full payment in return for a
Good luck with it.
I agree, Pat. That's what I was planning on doing. I'm giving him a
spreadsheet that starts with the amount we agreed upon and adds on
certain changes that we agreed to and their respective costs, like
moving a few walls--nothing major. The final number will be
presented. To receive that amount, he has to give me a new final bill
for that amount. And before he even does that, he has to finish the
dozen or so outstanding tasks. I'm giving him 30 days to finish the
outstanding tasks (minor issues that could take one day with a crew of
2 guys). If he does not finish the tasks in 30 days, I will hire
other contractors and subtract their bills from the amount due. And
again, that final amount due has to be agreed on explicitly with a new
final bill. If he doesn't agree, then he doesn't get anything, and
he'll have to sue for the entire $50K-$70K, at which time I will go
after him for all the other shortcomings in quality and workmanship.
This is war. I'm not going to get screwed over by another
contractor. I've had it. They all play this game. The give a price,
and then, as soon as you accept the price, they go to work on finding
reasons to raise it. I have to fight this on principal. I'm also
going to tell everyone who will listen to stay away from these jokers.
Thanks for your advice.
On Jun 23, 7:23 pm, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Does anyone remember this joker asking how _not_ to pay a drywall
contractor from a thread some months ago?
If I were the suspicious sort, I'd think there was a pattern of
blaming other people for their own failings.
To the OP:
You don't know how to protect yourself, you don't know that you need
to put everything in writing, you don't know how to deal with people
in a straightforward manner - what makes you think you know right from
wrong and that you won't be laughed out of court?
Go ahead piss all over you own shoes and make yourself miserable.
You'll spend more money and a hell of a lot of time to "prove" you're
never wrong. Only one problem - you're probably wrong. Don't take my
word for it. Listen to the lawyer that will take your case - they
always love people that are standing on principle...as long as they
pay the lawyer's bills on time.
Oh my. I just thought of something. You're not so entirely deluded
that you think a lawyer won't require you to pay as you go, but will
take only 1/3 of your "winnings", are you?
In a court the contractor would be entitled to fair market value for his
In construction 13,000 is not a LOT of money, just depends on the work I
I'd pay the extra 13, not say, aha! you didn't put it in writing.
if contractor is getting fair market value, then 13,000 will come in quick
(he should have no problem showing the court 13,000 $'s of extra work)
it could run into 10's of extra 1,000's fast.
So you're saying a contractor can provide a contract to build whatever.
Intentionally or unintentionally, misstate the costs in terms of fair market
value of services provided in that contract. Call those cost overruns, and
win in court for those so called cost overruns... Doesn't sound like
contract law to me.
Seems the buyer should be able to recover the same with service costs if
less in the area. Not... Don't hold water.
no, you're missing the point
the point is, the owner here is to the benefit of some structure built by
that structure has a fair market replacement value
seems I remember the owner bragging about the value of his home
how people who live in big houses don't put up with shit from generals like
something about the community? he lives in?
Since you don't have formal contract....I suggest you submit this to
arbitration. What the house is worth is irrelevant. What the labor is
worth may be relevant....What the materials cost you have a backup
statement for....You have no agreement for change orders? His mistakes,
his time to complete? Without a contract, not clear he can complain
unless he can show you caused the delay. Sometimes it comes down to do
you want to let him control the process of redress, or you? Do yo want
him filing a mechanics lein and then a laywer jacks up the hourly fees
or do you want to perhaps go to a low or no cost initial session with a
lawyer to determine you best interest? Sometimes, a simple letter from
a lawyer will survice.
Consider, what do you think he OUGHT to get paid, fairly?
Anybody can sue anyone for anything. Doesn't mean its really going to
Unless there's a provision in the contract, tough luck for him and he'll be
laughed out of court.
See previous point.
This has no standing in court.
Most contracts have a time frame specified, so this could work against him
in court. BTW, his written bid with your signature of acceptance is in fact
a contract. Has he even presented you with a final itemized bill? Now, I'm
interested to hear the other side of the story. But if the builder is just
trying to bully his way to more money than he's due, his threats will go
In many states a contractor can add additional charges on to his bill if he
feels that he can justify the additional costs he's been force to endure. I
have no idea what the law states in Wisconsin, and I'm willing to bet you
don't either. First of all he CAN place a builders lien on you property and
make it difficult for you to get a Certificate of Occupancy.
In my opinion, you have two courses of action, one is to agree to his
overages and pay. The second is to retain a lawyer for a consultation.
ONLY a lawyer can advise you as whether he has a legitimate claim or not (he
probably can justify some of the additional cost, but only a lawyer can get
to the heart of his claim.) Don't be foolish, no one here is qualified to
give you a good answer.
He's threatening lawsuit, and you would be very foolish to take this
lightly. He's a professional (whether he's a good contractor in our opinion,
or not), and he well knows the construction laws and his right to claim to
any additional monies due him. Get a lawyer, you will save money in the long
The third thing, which should be the first thing, is too speak with the
contractor about the added costs and decide if they are justified.
Seems there has been major miscommunication throughout the project and MORE
miscommunication won't help matters.
Some years ago the contractor who remodeled my Boston row house into 3
condos, demanded $26,000 extra from me for additional work prior to C of O.
I suggested we go to arbitration, he agreed. I appeared with complete
paperwork, dated notes of conversations with him, copies of letters
detailing his delays, dated sketches, and photos detailing every item added
or subtracted. He appeared with his contract and threats of a mechanics
lien. I won easily as I was prepared. He was not and went away nifonged. I
suggest that you go for arbitration and be over prepared.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.