I had a contractor remodel/update my bathroom. We settled on a budget
not to exceed $9000. After the work commenced, we offered to pay cash
which he said would get us about a 25% discount on labor...so, we
should easily come in under our maximum budget (we were thinking).
Along the way, some changes were agreed to which we realize adds cost
and was accounted for. I was to do all of the finish work which took
me about 35 hours (prime and paint walls and ceiling and clear grout
haze off shower and floor). In addition, he took 2.5 months when other
contractors were giving an estimate of 2.5 - 3 weeks. On the plus
side, he build to a Code-Plus standard and did some fantastic work.
Here's the problem. When the final bill was presented, it turns out
that he was 65% over the original budget of $9000 - and we thought we
would be under budget with a cash discount.
Is it common for small remodel jobs to be so far over budget and take
so long for a job that I did all the finish work? Do I have any
recourse? Keep in mind the final project is fantastic but the sticker
shock, the duration of the project and what we thought was a cash
discount didn't seem to matter. Thoughts?
$9K for a bathroom?????!!! Around here (NoVA) unless you're talking about a
complete replumbing job/down to the studs remodel, with premium finishes like
marble, 6ftx3ft jacuzzi in an 8x15 bathroom, that's one heckuva budget.
'Course I'm of the school that a bathroom is for a S^3, not for lounging.
Heh. The only way you'll get a 25% cash discount on labor is if you pay the
laborer directly and under the table.
How accounted for?
Yoicks, this must be a football field sized bathroom. 35 hours?
You got, you should excuse the expression, fscked. Unless you ran into major
structural problem a bathroom remodel, even down to the studs should take two
weeks minimum, even allowing for fixture delivery.
and did some fantastic work.
At $9K not only should he have done fantastic work he should've offered you a
shot at his wife, ferchrissakes.
of $9000 -
Uh, lemme do the math. 1.65x9K=, er, fumble (ahfugedaboutit, callit) $14K.
$14K?!?!!!! Jeezum crow, I did my kitchen for $15K, including appliances. I
_finished_ my basement for $20K. You got stuck like a pig unless you went for
thousand dollar fixtures (obref: unionhardware.com).
Hahahahahahah. . . oops, sorry, don't mean to laugh at your misfortune.
It all depends on the contract you signed. I had to fire my kitchen remodel
contractor and finish the work myself. HE went waaay over the estimated time
limit by two months but due to nonperformance I was able to return the fsck by
cancelling and offering to sue (SOB sent me a cabinet hanger who bitched about
his own self-hung cabinets "sliding off the wall"). He ran.
Basement took longer than estimated but only by 1/4. Even with an upgrade it
came it just about budget. Some things were cheaper than estimated, some were
a little more.
Bottom line is what did the contract specify? Was it cost-plus or time and
If you're happy S^3'ing in your new bathroom and the overrun isn't going to
hurt you cash-wise I'd say sit down and enjoy your quality time. Buyer's
remorse leads to hemerrhoids, or so I'm informed.
The $9k budget was only to tear out a 3'x3' fiberglass shower, replace it
with a custom built tile shower approx. the same size. Tile was ~$4.15/s.f.
Floor was tiled as well. Small water closet was torn out to open up the
space. Shower fixture was a wall unit. No cabinets, countertops or anything
but a toilet. However the room is 12' X 20'.
I should clarify. There were about $1100 in extras and we bumped up the
accepted budget by an equal amount. to $10,100. He still came in 65% OVER
the revised, or $11,100 budget.
The tile had a slight texture to it and had to be scrupped with an acid
solution 4 times - that took most of the time.
Some days he and a laborer would only work a couple of hours and other days
longer but that was agreed to upfront - contractor originally said it would
reduce our cost by working with his flexible schedule.
Dammit, he's single. I like the way you think though.
Here's were we went wrong..no contract. Word of mouth only (thus the cash
Humm, let me sit down and think about that....what's that itching in my
On Tue, 29 Jul 2003 20:08:53 GMT, "charliekilo"
(snip for brevity -- what to do if $10,100 project with no written
estimate or contract comes in at $16,000 and change.)
I do kitchens, baths and basement development for a living. I can
see a 12 x 20 room with a custom tile shower coming in at $6 - 9,000,
depending on all kinds of things. Depending on the tile and faucets
and how much drywall and how much reframing and what had to be done to
prep the floor and so on ... I'm not as certain as some that the
original $9,000 was all that extravagent a price.
What does surprise me is the length of the job (two to three weeks is
more than adequate even for the most major bath renovation) and the
"discount for cash" (real contractors don't do cash deals, too much
to lose) -- I can only surmise he was moonlighting from a regular or
As to where things stand now, you need legal, not construction,
advice. Forget newsgroups -- they're fun and often helpful -- but
you need to know how the law applies to your situation in your
jurisdiction in your exact circumstances. Spend a couple of hundred
with a lawyer so that you * know* exactly what your options are, and
what potential gains and consequences flow from them.
Then, deal with your contractor from a position of strength.
I can guess what a professional would do .... but your guy does not
sound like a professional.
I read you don't have a contract, but what's the situation now?
Is the work all done and now he wants a final payment that includes the
65% overage? If so, what is his explanation? Does he admit that he
agreed to $11,100 after the extras?
Or did you pay him as he did the work, and now that you add it all up,
it comes to 65% more than $11,100?
Yes. His explanation is that the work is superior to any other contractor
would do and he put in extra time to make it that way. Hard to argue with
because it's a bit "fuzzy." Granted he did a great job but when we first
discussed the job - I said I wanted "code-plus" work. He agreed to do that
with our budget of $9k.
Paid as the job progressed but final payment of about 20% is still payable.
When we were presented with the final job summary (which showed the $18,300)
total - I was shocked. That was two weeks ago and I paid some more of the
balance but as time is progressing, I'm getting more torqued off.
Remodeling magazine reported that the average mid-range bathroom
remodel in the DC Metro area (which includes NoVA) is $8,535.
"Upscale" bathroom remodels averaged $20,756
Make sure he itemizes all of the costs -- were the costs justified? In the
end you have little recourse -- you agreed to increases in the budget and he
moved forward with your changes.
Whether or not this was justified depends entirely upon what you got for the
bucks and what market you are residing in as well. I live in Cincinnati
(the Midwest). We started a bathroom project that ended up getting out of
control -- had to rip out the bathroom, closet, and adjoining bedroom, the
subfloor and underlayment, plumbing, and electrical when all we had planned
to do was repair the floor under the bathroom and insert a new tub. Our
initial budget was about a grand and it was ALL to be DIY. In the end we
put out about 5 grand -- lumber alone was $800.
Bear in mind, this was a complete DIY project and it's in the Midwest. We
put in a new subfloor and underlayment, half a dozen joists, 2 walls,
tub/toilet/cabinet/sink and associated fixtures, drywall and supplies, tile,
and so forth. However, even with all that if we had hired someone to do it
and did the finish work ourselves I'd suspect we would have come in just
under your budget of $9000. Take this same project and move it out to LA
though and you'd be talking $15,000 or more.
If you're in a high cost-of-living area then the numbers should come as no
surprise IF the quality of the work and materials equals out.
If you have the budget numbers in writing, talk to an attorney. Bearing in
mind that using the legal system to address your matter means time and
possibly more $$$ than the difference, you may also want to approach the
contractor -- he may be willing to flex and knock off some of the bill to
avoid any issues and keep you happy, that's just good business.
Either way I'd still talk to the contractor -- I've been on both sides of
that equation (I perform a variety of high-end computer consulting tasks)
and found it much better to work things out privately.
2 1/2 months for a bathroom remodel?
wow, it must be a huge bathroom.
at $9000 he didn't make any money, even with the overage.
pay the poor bastard his $15 per hr.
he will soon be out of business at those rates.
You embark on a five figure project and don't even have a formal
contract or written agreement?? Unbelievable!!! (Verbal contracts are
legally binding but almost impossible to carry out due to the "he
said/she said" factor.)
You better just sit down with the contractor and negotiate a
settlement. If you don't than he could probably put a mechanic's lien
on your property, assumming he filed the appropriate "right to lien"
paperwork for your area. If he didn't happen to do this, than you
might want to wait for him to make the first move since he has no
other out to recieving payment.
You're generally beyond the amount for small claims court, so
litigation will be very expensive.
The 25% discount for cash should have been your first warning sign to
avoid this person. Maybe after you settle, you should inform the IRS
or submit a W9 form for the amount you paid him in cash!!! (poetic
Your situation should be a warning sign for everyone on how not to
enter into a construction project.
miles email@example.com (Miles) wrote in message
A little background, we known him and his family. He was in the military for
10 years and is currently attend university in our town. His family has a
large well respected (high-end) home renovation company in a major nearby
city. The company has been around for more than 40 years. He does
contracting jobs part-time while in school (thus us agreeing to the time
schedule and cash payment) and have seen several of his projects while he
has been doing this. But, I like the idea of filing a W9 - I'm a big fan of
poetic justice. :)
First of all it is completely unacceptable if contractor notifies you after
the fact that he has exceeded previously agreed upon budget. He should have
notified you BEFORE starting any work that would have increased final cost.
It is true that not always it is possible to foresee all difficulties and
obstacles before the project actually starts. But again, contractor must
notify you when those problems are discovered before doing any adjustment to
the contract and cost. I personally wouldn't pay him a dime more ten you
initially settled to pay for the project. The fact he demanded cash and
possible paid under the table makes contract illegal (I would also ask if he
has license) so I don't think he may put legal action against you. BTW, $9K
does not seem to be a lot of money at least in Central NJ where I live. I am
currently building a bathroom in basement. Initially I planned to hire a
plumber to relocate several gas and water pipes and install sewage ejector
assuming I break the concrete for the ejector pit and trenches for DWV pipes
and provide the pump itself. Estimation - $6500. So I had to do everything
I also wonder if $9K includes materials and fixtures or labor cost only?
About 66% of the budget was for labor - we didn't replace many fixtures -
only the shower and toilet. The cabinets, sinks, countertops, faucets, and
tub all stayed in place.
Do you by chance have any before and after pictures? I'm admittedly curious
here -- you talk about how fantastic the final result was and all that, but
then you say something like the above and I immediately wonder -- what did
this guy actually DO in the bathroom?
I dunno -- maybe it's because I do all my own work, but I still haven't
heard anything that comes close to $9,000 let alone $18,000, and certainly
nothing that takes 2-3 months to complete. I completely tore out or
bathroom and redid it from scratch -- floors, walls, and everything -- and
didn't come close to those price tags.
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