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Question DetailsAsked on 5/27/2014

Someone completed a contract to the specs and did extra work, do I have to pay extra?

I had a deck built. It was supposed to take 14 days (verbal, not written) to complete. The deck was started at the end of March and was just completed. During this time we had a couple things that the guy "knew a guy" and decided to recruit them to help. Every day we asked how much more it was going to cost. Never signed anything or knew anything about prices. We thought it was a favor because of how long everything was taking. Today I handed him the check for the completion of the deck and he told me how much it cost him for the 3 other things ($1025). He asked me what I wanted to do about it. I told him that it took 2 months vice 14 days to complete the deck. After that I let him know that I had to speak with my husband about it. Which I have been advised to go to legal at work and get their advice about it. What should I do?

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4 Answers


Working "bare" without a contract, huh ? Unfortunately, by letting him work without a contractual scope of work and deadline, and allowing him and his "guy" to do other things which you knew about, you really left yourself open to claims. And NEVER assume the contractor is doing something just out of the goodness of his heart - he is in business to make money, and change orders and extra work are cream on the cake as they generally invoke very little additional overhead cost or unpaid bid preparation time to yield extra revenue,, to the profit margin is almost always higher.

And instead of asking every day what it was going to cost, and not getting an answer, you should have called a halt to the extra work till you got a firm committment on price.

Could be he was just going with the flow and suggesting extra things that he thought you might want, could also be he smelled a sucker and brought in his friend to share in the largesse.

Either way, you have a weak position because everything was verbal and you allowed additional work to be performed with your knowledge. Also, your story falls apart - you say every day you asked wht it was going to cost, but you thought the extra work was a favor ? Does not hang together. Long story short, you are going to owe him for the fair value of the extra work at a minimum, and the schedule delay (which was not a contractual obligation) is irrelevant to the $ issue.

If you have free legal aid through your work or a lawyer friend you can run it by, of course talk to them, and spell out everything you said above and this reply too, if you want. Otherwise, if the $ for the extra work is reasonable, I would say pay it. If unreasonable amount, then negotiate to try to bring the amount down, but I think this is going to have to be filed under a lesson learned - if you do not have a firm contract spelling out the how, what, where, when, how much, and any other work specifics; then you are in a cost-plus environment and pretty much guaranteed to be unpleasantly surprised.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


To clarify the question info. There was a contract for the deck itself. Nothing more. The time frame was verbal. We knew the price of the deck and had signed it. In the contract it states "Any alteration or deviation from the above specifications involving extra costs will be excuted only upon written orders, and will become an extra charge over and above the estimate." There was NOTHING signed for the extra work that was done outside of the deck.

Answered 6 years ago by Guest_9897362


Your problem is a bit confusing.

You say you did not sign anything and yet you say you have contract. A contract is not a contract unless it is signed by both parties and a deposit is given even if it is just $1. Any changes in the scope of work should have had a change order in writing. I what you meen by he "knew a guy and recruited him" was to complete the job as quoted and not to something above the scope of the work agreed to you do not in my opinion owe him any extras. It seems to me that you might have a moonlighter that was over his head and needed a buddy to help him. If that is the case you owe no extras for extra help and not work. It was his choice to get help to get done with the job. Sounds like he was over his head on the job skills he thought he had.

Your initial question seemed to imply as LCD answered that it was a verbal and not a written contract. If that is the case than his answer is spot on. I have reread you original post a number of times and it does seem like it was verbal the way you initially posted.


Answered 6 years ago by ContractorDon


Don mentioned in his state that it is not a contract without a down payment. That might be, but in the Uniform Commercial Code states (about 15) and many others, NO down payment is needed to make it legal, though the contract does have to involve consideration in exchange for some service or goods.

The general factors needed to establish a contract (called the Essential Elements of a Contract) are:

1) Offer (to provide a service or goods or perform work),

2) Acceptance (of the Offer by the other party receiving the goods - though may be mutual offer and acceptance going both ways in some cases, say as in a joint venture or partnership contract),

3) Intent - to create a contractual relationship - meaning generally a "meeting of the minds" of the contractual parties as to what the terms are and identification of the parties involved, and

4) Consideration - agreement on compensation to be paid for an identified service or item or scope of work.

In many jurisdictions a stated timeframe for performance or delivery is also necessary for a contract to exist, and in some jurisdictions for certain types of contracts (primarily Real Estate and Employment and in a few jurisdictions, home improvement contracts) it has to be in writing.

A fifth implied factor is that the terms of the contract have to be legal.

Unfortunately, you say there was a written contract with specified amount for the deck - but then verbal on doing three other things. That could have been construed as a "change order", but since you kept asking how much it would cost but never stopped work till a price was agreed upon, that left it as an oral contract with unspecified compensation - and in the courts, unless you could prove fraud or that you received nothing of value, the judgement would usually be for the contractor in the amount of how much the work was "worth" at usual and customary industry rates. Even if the three items were additions to the deck contract, because you knew the extra items were being done (they were at your request or with your consent) then that constituted an implied consent to the work - so by ignoring the contractual requirement for written change orders you basically shot yourself in the foot.

As far as the completion time - he can easily come back on you and say there was no specified completion time in the contract or a signed change order to that effect - so you are pretty much out of luck on that factor, plus you would be hard pressed probably to prove any financial loss due to the longer timeframe.

My bottom line - since probably at most $250-500 is at questions (assuming the three work items were worth at least half the $1025 he is asking for), it is not worth contacting an attorney - I would pay him the reasonable vaqlue (haggle a bit if vallue is at question), and be sure you get signed and dated lien releases from the contractor, his buddy if he was a subcontractor rather than employee of the contractor, and any vendors of significance (like deck materials supplier)- and get the lien release or AS you make final payment, not after.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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