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Question DetailsAsked on 9/10/2016

should california contractors provide a breakdown of labor and material costs?

My contractor has stated that providing me with a breakdown of cost of labor versus cost of materials in confidential, and I am not entitled to that information. Is this true in California?

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1 Answer


California is a UCC (Uniform Commercial Code ) state, so nothing unusual about contract requirements there (as opposed to regulatory disclosure and consumer protection laws, which abound in CA).

If the contractor gave you a fixed project fee (one price for whole job) or a flat unit rate bid (so much per unit of work, commonly used for earthwork on jobs where exact quantities cannot be reasonably estimated up front), he has no obligation to disclose the backup for it - you can take the bid or rate he offers or you can negotiate with him on it or take a bid from another contractor, but he does not have to disclose either the breakdown of his bid or document the actual costs after the fact. You are working to a price he contracted for - which you could take or leave at the bidding stage, but once contracted he is bound to that bid and you arer bound to the amount for payment even if his actual costs are significantly higher or lower. [This discussion excluding change order for change or work scope by you, or for unforseeable change of conditions, where a negotiated change order would be executed for a mutually-agreed upon price].

If your contract instead called for a cost-plus contract, or maybe flat unit-rate on labor and cost-plus or cost-reimbursement on materials, then he would have to document labor hours (if fixed unit rate) with timesheets, or actual labor cost if cost-plus. If labor was contracted as a lump sum, then barring change orders, you would pay that amount and have no right to timesheets. Materials, if remimbursable (either direct reimbursement or cost-plus arrangement) he would have to provide documentation of the actual costs of the materials. Failing to provide documentation of his labor and materials in a cost-plus or cost-reimbursable contract is constitute an incomplete billing, with inadequate proof of costs to justify reimbursement. Of course, in 20-20 hindsight, if that is the contract type then the contract terms should have had specific requirements and procedures for measurement (of labor and materials and/or work done) and for incremental payments.


If you meant in the bidding phase - you can demand any level of detail you want in the bid request, but he does not have to provide it if he does not want to. Of course, that will make him technically non-responsive to the bid request, so it would be up to you whether you want to take or leave his bid. Generally, for lump-sum bids (one price for the entire job, with possibly some specific set-asides or contingencies for ceartain indeterminate work items or materials choices for instance), he will not want to nor normally provide that type of info - he does not want his bid details to be made known to or be bid-against by other contractors bidding the same job.


Here are links to a couple of other similar previous questions with answers -

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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