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Question DetailsAsked on 9/24/2015

What if a date of completion was not included on contract?

I'm in the middle of a kitchen remodel nightmare. We hired a general contractor for a large kitchen remodel back in May. We were given verbal reassurance that our project would be done by the end of August but no date of completion was actually included in the written contract. It is now nearly October and the work has barely began. Also, the contractor just issued a change of order in total of over $27,000 to reroute plumbing that was in a wall we were removing to expand the kitchen. We are not sure what recourse we have in this situation. We simply cannot afford the change of order and have denied it. We would like to get second opinions at this point to see why our project has become so expensive. What options do I have to cancel this contract? Thanks for any help.

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1 Answer


Sounds like bailout time - and you need legal help on this from a contracts lawyer. And no, Angies List does not do listings for attorneys or legal services. Sounds like you have serious pricing as well as completion date issues with the contractor - you did not say if there are quality issues too ?

Technically, if there is not a contract performance period in the contract, it is not a legal contract - that is one of the essentials of a contract, along with identification of the parties to the contract, work or delivery location, scope of work, compensation amount and payment terms, etc.

Also makes me wonder if you have issues with payment amounts and progress payment timing - like did you give him a giant down payment so he had no incentive to do it on time ?

Unless you have an absolute mansion or own Downton Abbey, something is deadly wrong about a $27,000 change order for rerouting plumbing in a single wall - or in most cases even replumbing the entire house and repairing all the damage from that, which is generally in the $5-10,000 or less range, much less $27,000. Are you sure it does not say $270.00 or have a missing decimal - you might contact him one that assumption, asking if he would reissue it with the $270 number because obviously the decimal got missed ?

And if actually $27,000 - makes me wonder how much the entire job amount is ? Normally a total large kitchen remodel would run in the $30-50,000's - higher and on up to $100,000 only for absolute top-end with professional appliances and top-end stone countertops and flooring and such. And those prices would be for a pretty complete tearout and replace, not just an upgrade. So a $27,000 change order sounds like around a 50-100% increase in the normal price for this type of job just to reroute some pipes, which would normally run probably $1,000 or less - much less if over an unfinished basement or crawlspace.

Also, makes me wonder if this merits a change order at all - a good contractor would have checked where the plumbing ran during his estimating inspection so would have known they needed to be rerouted - unless he was working from as-builts or plans from your architect that did not show their locations correctly.

If the number is actuaklly $27,000, talk to an attorney ASAP, and he will undoubtedly recommend an independent cost review by a construction cost estimator or experienced residential project manager. Or your architect, if you used one to prepare plans for you.

If you have an architect, you could also ask HIM to contact the contractor about the change order, saying you asked him to look it over, and ask him to discuss the reasonable price issue - contractor is less likely to try to put something over on a design professional who might badmouth him and know the reasonable range of cost for certain work, than he is a homeowner who might be naive about construction issues and costs.

Course, hate to say it, but because you did not raise hell about progress by June or early July with an end of August completion date, you have lost a good deal of the punch you could have had.

Attorney can advise on your options, but I expect the top two, since work has barely begun, would be to mutually terminate the contract and pay him fair compensation for work actually completed (and get lien releases from him, subs and suppliers); or to call his bond to have another GC take over - though without a stated contract completion date they might balk at that and argue he has no deadline so as long as he is nominally working he is not in default.

Don't know what other help we can give, and maybe if going to talk to an attorney you should not post any more here because the contractor or his attorney might come across it and weaken your case, but you can reply back with followup if you want using the Answer This Question button right below your question.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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