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Question DetailsAsked on 5/4/2017

is it normal for a contractor to take unused materials and charge you for them

shower was retiled and contractor charged me for all the tiled he purchased but then took the unused box of tile - it was kind of expensive. Seems cheap on his part - charges me with a markup and then returns the tile and gets his money back.

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Normal if you do not say you want them yes a contractor will take away cutoffs and unused materials - but if they were paid for under a cost-plus or cost-reimbursable arrangement, they are legally yours and you should get the unused materials or the return credit, as applies. Ditto under any other pricing arrangement where you directly paid for the materials as a separate line item, as opposed to them just being part of the cost of the job. Or if you paid for materials as a direct line item (lump sum or per square foot or whatever) and the quantity paid for was more than actually installed after taking into account cutoffs and wastage.


[Typically, the contractor gets to keep the original purchase markup on returned items, as compensation for having to return them - so you would get purchase price refund, not including the markup, unless contract says otherwise.]


Alternatively, if the contract was lump-sum or fixed price format (so materials were not being directly reimbursed or paid for) then you are paying him a predetermined amount for a fixed scope of work and end product - say so much for the shower job lump sum, then any materials left over are his to use on another job or to return for credit if over-bought.


On tile and flooring jobs, especially larger ones, it is common to overbuy by a box or two to be sure there will be no trouble with running out or hitting a run of a dozen or so defective tiles or planks orshingles (very common) in a container. He can then normally return any unopened box(s). Some tile and flooring contractors keep unused partial boxes (though you quickly end up with a garage full) - can be very useful on repair callback jobs to have the exact match tiles, and a good way to guarantee you get that repeat work for previous clients. Others will keep them for possible small jobs or to offer as accent pieces or for repairs of similar (or complimentary) materials - others will offer the partial boxes to the client to keep with the house for repairs if they want to store them.


My recommendation - on small jobs keep about 10% spare materials after the job is done - on larger jobs put in the contract that you end up with at least 1/2 box/bundle, or maybe in some cases any partial container plus one full box - like for vinyl or aluminum siding or roofing shingles or tiles for instance. VERY useful when repairs are needed.


[Note - for asphalt shingles, you need to put sheet plastic or visqueen (thicker and glossy finished like 6 mil vapor barrier, not wrinkly saran wrap thickness - it will eventually stick irremoveably) at the tar tabbing strip contact point to keep the shingles from sticking together. Waxed paper does NOT work over the long term - found that out the hard way - the asphalt dissolves the wax. For siding and flooring any plastic wrap should not be touching the product - can stick and stain over the long term. And with all spares - keep out of sunlight or direct light, and cover uniformly so you don't get differential bleaching or fading.]

Answered 1 year ago by LCD




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