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Question DetailsAsked on 1/10/2012

is it reasonable to ask contractor for copies of original material receipts for large dollar items?

I have been working with a contractor for general repairs and two big ticket items, wrought iron rails and a new bathroom cabinet. I have asked for copies of the original receipts for these items and was first given the run around and then told it is normal to charge 10% extra on material costs. I thought I was paying materials at cost plus an hourly rate. Either way is it wrong to want copies of the original receipts even if there was a mark up that I knew nothing about? What do I do in case of a warranty issue only go back to the contractor?

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6 Answers


It depends on your agreement with the contractor. If it was agreed up front to provide materials at cost then yes it is reasonable. If it was not then you'll just have to deal with whatever the material costs are. A good contractor should give you a quote for materials and labor and should stick to this quote unless something unexpected happens like termites, rot, etc.

Answered 8 years ago by Guest_9552900


It goes back to your original agreement. You state you "thought" you were paying materials plus hourly labor. What did your actual contract state? Also, what did the contract state about warranties? If the warranty is from the contractor, then you don't really need the receipts (although I understand why you would want them-contractors come and go). If there is no warranty, then you need the receipts regardless. If there was no contract, then make sure you get a contract from here out so there is no confusion in regards to what was agreed upon. No contract in a courtroom means, he-said-she-said, means both are wrong, split the difference. Which ultimately means you lose.

It is normal to charge a percentage above the material receipts; this covers the contractor for ordering it, hauling it, storage fees, disposal fees, cost of business, interest on material's credit line until payment, etc. A quart of oil is more expensive from an auto dealership than from a supply store for this exact reason. Most businesses will charge incidental fees (long distance phone calls, copy costs, fax costs, etc) that are tacked on to the actual cost of the document or item you are buy. Same thing here. The contractor shouldn't have to lose money when dealing with supplies (or only make money on labor.) But, your contractor should have had this in the contract. He said materials plus labor to sell you on hiring him, knowing you didn't know the industry standard for incidental/additional costs.

If you don't have a contract, get the receipts because that means you don't have a warranty (the contractor won't have a reason to return when he gets final payment). If you are getting the run-around now, imagine what you will get when you need something repaired or replaced.

Good luck!


Answered 8 years ago by Kenny Johnson


Many contractors structure their businesses different ways. One very common way is as Kenny described. The other is a method such as my own. I charge actual materials, tax and labor plus 20-25% for overhead and business profit after paying my guys & any manual labor on my part. I usually don't have a problem sharing copies of receipts with customers if they are up front about it at the start. It would throw me for a loop if someone asked for them mid-job though because of my filing process. Also, it would indicate to me a possible lack of trust in me or my abilities to be asked all of a sudden in the middle of a job. My relationship with my customers is based on that trust. Most reasonable contractors are open books and very up front with their customers as long as the customer is reasonable to deal with. If you have no contract you've learned a lesson. If you do, make him honor it.

Todd Shell
Todd's Home Services

Answered 8 years ago by Todd's Home Services


Not wrong to ask, but you should expect the contractor applied a mark-up unless your contract and scope of work specifically says otherwise. I suppose you should also expect the contractor to be transparent and forthcoming in their dealings with the customer.

Is 10% normal? For the contractor maybe, but some contractors may mark items up 20% or 30%. They are essentially re-selling a product and its up to the consumer to know if the price on that product is competitive or choose to purchase it themselves from a more competitive source.

This is why it is important when evaluating contractors for your project we strongly recommend requiring them to provide separate and specific line item pricingforlabor items suchas demolition, plumbing, framing, flooring installation, painting, etc. and finish materialquotes for things like flooring, tile, plumbing fixtures, lighting, doors, etc.

This approach helps both you and the contractor ensure thereis an accurate, aggressive and sustainable quotation for his/her services.

It also gives you the assurance that you can choose thefinish materials you prefer at the best possible prices and without having to pay any contractor mark-up.


Answered 8 years ago by HMDhome


My company billing policy has two different ways for me to make money. The one is time and materials which has the customer pay all labour at a specific rate and materials at an agreeable percentage. This has the ability to cover me for any amount of labour or materials that the job requires. The is option has the issue of no fixed (or finished) end cost. The other option and more common for me if a fixed price contract with very specific details about what is to be done under the contract. All my equipment is manufacturers warranty and the customers gets all paperwork that relates to that but does not see any bills for the fixed price contract. the fixed price has the issue of on soem jobs the customer pays more that ir would if it was time and materials but has the advantage of having an amount that is not going to move.
Either way though there is a contract defining what is supposed to happen so there is no questions during or after the job. the couple times I had verbal contracts i eneded up not getting paid in full and fighting for the money.

Answered 8 years ago by ylekiyot


If it was agreed on before the job was started it is fine. most of my contracts are fixed price contracts which means i will hold the price with no extras as long as nothing changes to the job. This gives the customer piece of mind to know there is a max price that will be paid. It also allows me to get bulk pricing on some materials and keep them in storage for other simalar jobs. If I was to pass along the bills the customer would think I was making too much profit on those parts but it does cost money to carry inventory. I also have a few hours in every job for warranty labour so the customer does not have any expenses for a year or so depending on the job. Customers may not want to pay for this as they may or may not have warranty problems. But when they do have some they will be happy that it is covered. The option for customers is to go to a time and materials job with a set make up but then they bear all the potential over runs in labour and materials and will end up paying for all warranty labour not covered by manufacturer. although if all goes well the job may cost less.
It is always the customers choice but there is disadvantages both ways for both the consumer and contractor but someone has to have the risk of cost over runs.

Answered 8 years ago by ylekiyot

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