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Question DetailsAsked on 2/9/2015

Contractor asks for more money once work is completed.

I solicited three proposals from contractors for work on my front yard which involved landscaping, removal of dirt, a front path and small retaining wall. I had provided diagrams of the site to indicate what I wanted. I signed off on a document titled ‘Proposal” ($10K) and paid 50% deposit. As the process evolved two more steps were added, at additional cost, which I agreed to. After the process was completed I was sent a request for payment for the other 50% of the proposal plus an additional $3K as the contractor said they might need more materials and labor to complete according to the diagram I provided. Nothing was forthcoming about any additional cost during the process and I only found out about the $3K when they sent the email. I have paid the initial proposal amount plus the cost of two stairs, as I agreed to this change as it was identified. I have not paid the additional $3K as I did not agree to it and cannot see how they are able to legally undertake such a request.

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1 Answer


Hopefully the approved change order for the two more steps was in writing too.

If they want more money now, time to stop paying more until you negotiate any changes - and if he gave you a firm bid he cannot exceed that price without your permission unless either he can prove there was a change of scope of work at your direction/ approval or due to unforseen site conditions beyond his control.

Read the proposal fine print (commonly on the back) - as to whether this was an "estimate" or a firm bid. That makes a difference in the picture.

You say "as the process evolved" he said he might need more materials and labor - so I am not clear how far along he is or was when he asked for the other 50% plus $3 K. Sounds like if he is talking more materials he is in the middle of the job, or maybe not even started yet ? If the former, time to listen to his reason for higher price, but if it was a firm bid he is stuck with that price barring documented change of conditions/scope.

If he has not started work and wants the full payment up front, I would say time to say no way Jose and bail out of the deal and get your 50% back ASAP ! Oops - I see it is 100% ($10,000) plus the added scope amount (amount not stated) aslready paid by you. I certainly hope the job is essentially done or is done if you have paid 100%.

If the latter - unless the contract stated it was an "estimate" and subject to adjustment as the work went along he has no foot to stand on - and even then he would have to document the reason for the overun based on actual labor/materials records compared to his original written estimates for the same.

You mght want to take this a step at a time (everything documented in writing), depending on the bid/estimate issue - say you have paid the proposal amount and heard nothing about additional costs and ask for justification of why - or flat say no and see what happens.

Ultimately, you need to come out of this with a completed job (or aborted partway through and equitable cost adjustment), a paid-in-full invoice and contractor/materials supplier lien release(s), so what happens when you say NO depends on whether this was just a feeler to see if he could get away with it or in earnest. You might be looking for an attorney. And if he does not finish the work, then possibly call his bond to get it done for the original contract price, depending again on the bid/estimate issue.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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