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Question DetailsAsked on 1/22/2014

Can my contractor charge me 2K more than the original estimate?

Bathroom remodeling job for about $6K. Have worked with this guy before. Always excellent work. His final bill however was over 2 thousand dollars higher that the original estimate. No receipts or explanation were provided. Can he just do that and expect me to pay?

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4 Answers

Voted Best Answer

I would have to see the language in the orignal contract but the odds are no. Unless you signed a change order or made modifications to the existing scope, he is likely bound by the contracted price.

Answered 6 years ago by WoWHomeSolutions


Was it an estimate or a quote? If it was an estimate it is just that, an estimate. I am not a lawyer but I have always understood a Quote is a Contract and only with a mutual agreement can it be changed for such things as change of scope of the job such as hidden damage or changes in material choices.

I always spell out what I am doing labor wise and materials. If some materials have not been chosen I will give an allowance or write in "owner supplied". I include how many lights, switches, if shower door is included, etc.


Answered 6 years ago by ContractorDon


It all depends on how the original contract is worded. If he contracted to specific work for a specified amount of money, he is legally bound by that contract. However, if the contract is not specific about exactly what he agrees to do for a set amount of money, there's lots of 'wiggle room' for him to claim that extraordinary circumstances warranted more money.

But in either case, if the actual cost exceeds the original estimate, he should have discussed this in detail with you before he proceeded with the work. It might be worthwhile for you to have an attorney look over the contract to see exactly what your legal rights are. A few bucks for legal fees could easily pay for itself if the cost overrun is that significant (and $2K, IMHO, is VERY significant).

Answered 6 years ago by davidpmcsr


You certainly have the right to demand (nicely) that he justify it before you pay. Since you liked his prior work, time for him to come over for a sit-down with his original estimate and his final cost breakdown, to explain it.

Like other comments said, if offered as a price for the job, then unless he can prove (by change orders signed by you, etc) that additions were approved as he went along, then no. If he provided an "Estimate" - and has to be specifically phrased to count as such in many states - then it is just that - an estimate, and subject top changes, though he should have appraised you when his estimate number was no longer valid BEFORE he spent at a rate above that limit.

If an estimate, in court my experience is following - from the expert witness and owner's agent perspective on about a dozen cases - have never been sued on the contractor's side. The court would first look at amount of oerrun - if within 10%, you lose because it was stated as an estimate. IF he can make a case for the overrun and not over 20%, you probably lose. If over 25-30% and he did not talk to you in advance about the job looking like it was overrunning (and make price changes or scope changes with your approval), then you would probably prevail.

However, then another rule comes into play, if his attorney is on the ball. It is the principle of Unjust Enrichment - basically, you should not be able to benefit at his cost. This is the rule that lets advertisers back out of an ad for a new car for $2,500 when it should have read $25,000 - deemed not fair to be able to hold them to that mistake, So, if he can justify the overrun and show it would be a reasonable cost for the entire job, then he would win that amount of total job payment (including what you already paid).

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


Estimates are just estimated and expected costs. Quotes/bids are generally fixed prices. Remodels frequently have unexpected "surprises" when they are pulled apart. You never know what you'll find hidden behind drywall or even under bathtubs. Many builders, especially tract home builders, cut a lot of corners during construction to save cost. It can easily cost $1-2000 more on a remodel in a tract home than one that was custom built properly.

Anyway, depending on the language of his contract he may have a legitimate final bill that you will have to pay. I always give estimates for remodels after losing money on too many with all kinds of hidden crap I've had to fix before doing the planned work. My estimate also states that if the customer is not available to consult I have the option to decide how to complete any additional needed repairs, at the customer's cost, so that I don't have guys standing around doing nothing while a decision is made. This is why it is important to hire someone you can trust. The added charges may be legitimate but he needs to provide a list of items that were not originally estimated to reflect the additional cost. Generally, if the added items should have been included but weren't then it is his own fault. If the extra things he did were added by you or were things he could not have foreseen then you will need to pay for them.

The fact that he contracted a Bathroom remodel for only $6000 means he is either inexperienced and didn't price the job accordingly or he estimated low so he would get the job (especially if you were indicating a desire for a low price, cheap) and is now trying to get the rest of what the job should have been estimated at. Even $8000 is cheap for an entire Bathroom gut and makeover, if done properly, unless you used a cheap plastic tub surround and bargain particle board cabinets.

Read any and all fine print in the contract you originally signed with this contractor. If it is an estimate then ask him to justify his charges. He doesn't necessarily have to break down the cost of every extra material and man hour but he should be able to say this extra item cost this much in materials overall plus this much in labor plus this much in business overhead costs plus this much in profit if you really need him to get detailed. Otherwise, as long as the line item charges are reasonable and his markup is within the expected range then you will need to pay for it. Again, assuming you have an estimate and not a bid.

Answered 6 years ago by Todd's Home Services

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