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Question DetailsAsked on 6/4/2016

i ask for an estimate and he did the job before he gave me one

I ask a roofer to give me an estimate and then dry in a roof. he send his crew over and dry in the roof before he got there to give me an estimate. now he sent me a notice to owner with the bill three weeks later. he also undid my pool solar panel and the wind blew one off an broke it.

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If you asked for an estimate and he did the work without you first signing a contract or accepting a proposal in writing, you had no contract - and you could charge him with trespass and refuse to pay the bill, though of course he would then file a lien or sue for recovery.

You hurt yourself considerably by not objecting to the work being done as soon as you saw the crew at work (when you should have stopped it immediately and prevented them from working or had them arrested for trespass) or if you were not there at the time you should have taken legal objection once you saw that the work had been done. At this point, 3 weeks later, he could argue implicit acceptance of the work.

You could argue the cost (assuming you find the work quality acceptable), and you could file a formal complaint with the state licensing board and the business licensing agency, though that helps other people who might get caught by this scam, not you specifically though by filing such complaints it does document your disagreement with what he did. You could also file a complaint with any professional association like NRCA that his company is a member of to put pressure on him. And of course bad reviews/complaints on AL and BBB for instance.

If you had other bids with a lower price, you could file a claim - lawsuit or a claim against his bonding company - or with his insurance company if claiming property damage (like the solar panel) or fraud. You might be able to negotiate the price down to what the lowest competitors bid (if you had bids) or down to what a construction cost estimating company would say is the reasonable value of the work if more than he is charging. You might well have claims with both - the bonding company if you accept the work but not the price, the insurance company on the damage to the panel and for fraud if you are going to object to the job in its entirety.

Or go to arbitration or mediation, though right now I would say you have a fairly strong lawsuit case so going to arbitration (especially binding arbitration) would be giving up some of your position of strength.

This is a complex issue - if there is a lot of $ at issue (his bill versus what you think is fair price), if he refuses to repair/replace the solar panel and replace it correctly, or if you intend to object to the total job - then I would say you need an attorney. Ditto is you want to say he was treaspassing and did not have permission to do the roof, so you should not have to pay anything, or if that pluls you want the roof redone because he tore off the old roof and did a shoddy job, so the work he did needs to be redone correctly.

That would be a viable approach if the work is shoddy. If it is basically up to standard, a judge could figure you were trying to get something for nothing and nail you, even if technically without a contract his putting a roof on without permission would in some states be considered a gift - just like receiving merchandise unsolicited in the mail is a gift to you. In a mediation/arbitration/suit case basically you could expect him to be awarded the fair value of the work he did - not necessarily everything he is asking for, but what the job should have properly cost - minus reasonable cost to repair defective work, if any. Theonly time you would normally expect to have to pay nothing would be if you had expert witnesses saying the job is so bad it has to be done over entirely, so you are basically back where you atarted - needing a contractor to do a total reroof, which should cost the same with this roof as with the old roof, presumably, so to be fair in that case this guy would get awarded nothing and you would proceed with a new contractor. IT is more likely he would be awarded some percentage of his billing, on the (rebutable) premise that his new roofing job is better than the old one you were wanting replaced - so you might end up paying a percentage and be stuck with a roof that might or might not have a good performance or long life. One key argument in that case would be warranty - that manufacturer warranty might not be worth anything if the job is shoddy, and certainly after this exercise the contractor's warranty would be worth nothing because he would be expected to be highly resistant to any claim on it, so you could claim imparied value of the roof for those reasons as justification for saying it has to come off and be replaced with a new roof with full warranties.

Lot of possible gyrations and outcomes - not many of them likely to be totally in your favor, so without an attorney with expertise in home improvement contract disputes I would say you are hung out to dry.

Note - if he files a lien, contest it promptly - because a lien on your house can accelerate the mortgage and make it immediately due, damages your credit rating, and can cause acceleration of other loans and lines of credit you have out there too - car, credit card, student loans, etc - can cuase a real nightmare.

I would confer with an attorney - at least to discuss the above situations and alternatives and any others he comes up with - because if you don't pay the contractor's next step is almost certainly a contractor's lien, which you would need an attorney to effectviely fight in court, because you would have to demonstrate in court that there was not contract and he did not have authority to do the work, so he has no legal right to file a lien. In some states, you would have to file fraud countercharges against him to effect this.

It is also likely this will come down to a he-said, she-said case, where you say you asked for an estimate first, and he says you said no such thing - or that is was a ligitimate misunderstanding so he should be paid the fair valule of his work. If that is the case, you are in a hard spot, and the only viable affirmative way out might be to charge him with criminal fraud (which in my mind this is unless there was a legitimate misunderstanding) to put him on the defensive and affirm that you never authorized the work. Unfortunately, there are some scammers out there (especially "storm chaser" contractors doing siding and roofing, who do this sort of thing and get away with it all too often.

On the roofing cost issue - certainly local bids carry the best weight, but for your own mind you could look in the Home > Roofing link in Browse Projects, at lower left, for some ballaprk roofing cost numbers to compare with his bill to see if he is in the reasonable range or really trying to rip you off.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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