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Question DetailsAsked on 9/21/2016

electrical billing problems

No written contract. Used Licensed contractor. First visit he arrived alone performed work, billed me by mail later and I paid. Second visit he arrives and brings another person with him. Nothing about him bringing this person was discussed. They left, later I receive the bill and he has billed me hourly for his rate and added this other person hourly to the bill. I remitted payment only for his normal rate plus materials and wrote a letter. He now is thretening a lien, a collection agency and even wrote a letter tomthe lady who referred him to me attacking my character! Can a contractor just bring random extra people then later bill for each one that shows up?

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1 Answer


No contract, no agreed-upon total job cost up front or at least hourly rate agreement - bet your 20-20 hindsight is kicking you now.

Sounds like this was work being done on a time and materials basis - no price agreed to up-front. Had there been a firm price agreed to up front, he could bring in helpers or subcontractors as he wished - though he would still be bound by the same bid price (barring changes of conditions in the job).

Assuming the other person actually worked as a helper and did not just sit around playing pokeman, then presumably his work shortened the labor hours for the electrician - and would typically be billed at about 50-75% of the rate if an apprentice or helper respectively, but can be same billing rate if he was a fully qualified electrician. So if this person was actively working on the job while there, assuming his rate is reasonable taken against the primary electrician's rate, then it would be proper to pay that charge too - because otherwise the primary electrician's portion of the bill would have been higher because it would have taken him longer to get the work done.

And generally speaking, barring a contract provision giving the customer the right to pre-approve or approve of workers coming on site, a contractor would not have to get your permission to bring in another person as a helper, presuming he/she was properly qualified for the work being done.

Him writing a letter to the referring customer was not proper on his part - but he was properly ticked off so I can see someone doing this.

You need to talk to him and explain you were blindsided by the second person being brought onto the job, and discuss (cooly, hopefully) why the second person was appropriate and the billing rate versus that person's qualifications (if rate was not given on the invoice) - but it sounds to me like this is legit, assuming the second person actually did those hours work, because on larger jobs or one requiring lifting heavy appliances or running wires in conduits or walls it is commonly advantageous or even necessary to have a second worker on the site.


One other perspective - if he were a General Contractor rather than electrical, and the work involved electrical work, then the extra person (presumably electrician) would have been a subcontractor to him, and again unless there was a contractual reason prohibiting use of subs that would be perfectly normal - GC's commonly bring in specialty trades to do the work they are either not licensed to do themselves, or which they are not trained or feel it is not something they want to bite off - electricians, plumbers, HVAC contractors, painters, flooring, cabinetry - sometimes a very large portion of the work is subbed out - or even all of it is subbed out by GC's with ones short of crew to do a particular and by ones who tend to act as a construction manager and who bid and run the job but use subs for basically all the work. (This is more common on commercial than residential jobs, but there are some out there who do that - especially developers and professional house flippers.)

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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