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Question DetailsAsked on 8/16/2017

A handyman/contractor paid himself out of my deposit without finishing the work. What are my options in OH?

I contacted a handyman to do work around a house into which I was moving. We walked around the house. I pointed out things I wanted done & expressed my concern that the house was not safe. He pointed out what he could do. He grabbed an electric socket from his car (?) and stuck it into an outlet (later telling me he was determining if the outlet worked). During the conversation, I learned he could install fencing. A day or 2 later, he showed me an estimate for everything we discussed, even things that I was just asking for his cost & wasn't seriously considering. The number was outrageous. I told him I just wanted the pricing for the fence & not to depend on other work. The first day, he told me there were a lot of roots & needed to get the hydraulic auger so he'd be back. I guess he brought the hydraulic auger and then told me he couldn't do it and he'd refund me the deposit. After trying to get a refund, today I was told he is sending me $230 with an invoice for his time.

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3 Answers


OK - he accomplished no useful work - basically bit off more than he could handle - so I would say tell him (prefearably in writing/eMail so you have a record of the conversations from here on) that so you expect a FULL refund for that reason.

Hopefully the invoice is a deduction from the deposit - not that he is keeping the deposit PLUS asking for another $230.

Though I expect he may have detected you were asking for pricing for things you did not intend to do (since you took him up on none of the house repair items you originally had him come out for) which was not very nice - took advantage of him doing that if those were actual quoted items rather than just off-the-cuff ballparks while walking around the house talking.

Guess you know now that for fence construction (unless doing it as a DIY job) you should have gone to a Fencing contractor (your Search the List cateogry to find well-rated reviewed contractors for that type of work).

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


Thanks. No, he returned $230 from my deposit and kept the rest as payment for equipment rental and time he claims he spent. There are holes in the yard but that's as far as he got. I actually was planning on using him for other things but the fence was a priority. I have asked for a full refund and he refused.

Answered 3 years ago by JakeEK2007


Youo say he took out $230 of the deposit for his expenses and labor - you also responded back he gave you $230 refund. Unless the deposit was $460 something does not add up - was the refund something other than $230 ?

OK - IF he gave you a firm price quote on the fence, and presuming he did not deliver on any complete fencing, then I would say you owe him nothing - the agreement was for fence and you got a couple of maybe incomplete holes in the yard, for which I think he should get nothing unless the contract somehow literally specified the ground would be amenable to hand digging, without any power tools - though in this point in history anyone planning on hand digging more than just a couple of readily accessible fencepost holes must have holes in his head or no prospects for other jobs he could be working on - just not economic to dig by hand unless you have a deal on prison labor or are working in Mexico or Haiti or such. In that case - the equipment rental would be part of his cost and not separately reimburseable.

Alternatively, if he only gave you a ballpark guesstimate of how many hours it would take to do it and there was no firm contract price, so you agreed to pay him by the hour, then you would have to pay for the time put in (at the agreed upon rate) until he quit or until you said he was progressing too slow and you were cutting him off. Presumably, since he quit, he was not being paid for the hour - because if he were that woulde be the perfect situation - being paid many more hours than estimated because the digging is tough. The equipment rental would be a gray area in that case - if needed to do the job probably legit BUT he should not have rented without you agreeing to the cost.

You do not say how materials cost was handled - if you were paying for that directly (as opposed to as part of a lump sum or per-LF cost for the fence) then the power auger rental and fuel might more legitimately be something you should espect to pay. But his lack of getting advance approval of the expense is what makes it a gray area - a contractor can't just go adding on costs to the job without approval, but if working on an hourly basis with you paying materials expense, then he might have implied authority to get necessary materials and equipment rental of specialty (not normal handyman) tools needed to do the job.

Recovery of that small amount would be tough - if he was bonded (unlikely) you could file a claim with the bonding company for the additional $230 refund - assuming it was a firm price job for the fence they wouldprobably pay up rather than bother taking the time and cost to resist.

Of course you could claim the $230 in a small claim court action, but that is a lot of hassle for that small a $ amount.

Either way, sounds like an appropriate Review on Angies List and maybe yelp or other similar sites might be in order, noting probably that he quit the job because he underestimated the amount of work needed to do it.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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