Acceptable practice? Legitimate invoice? Legitimate lien? Can I get advice from the contractor's perspective?

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Posted by: from Gta
5/15/2014 at 12:46:26 PM

Hello Dear Contractors,

This is our first time experience in dealing with this, therefore we want to know if the following is a legitimate practice amongst contractors or not.

Here is our story:

Out of various interviews we opted to work with a contractor on obtaining an accurate quote for an extension to a house. We had a certain budget in mind that we had to adhere to. The stipulation from the contractor was that he needed architect drawings to be able to get the accurate price for us.

It took us 4 months to finalize the design and get the drawings - the contractor was "in the loop" throughout the process via e-mail regarding the various stages of the design. We communicated with him on questions the architect needed to complete the design.

Now that our drawings are finalized, the budget that he is quoting us for the extension substantially exceeds our initial budget - we are unable to move forward with the project. This has caused a falling out between us and the contractor.

He has sent us an invoice in the amount of $2,500 for 100 hour of work for the "planning of construction of the addition". If we do not pay this invoice, he has threatened to put a lien on the house.

We did not sign an agreement or a contract of any kind with this contractor. We did the preliminary work required to obtain a quote: we provided a detailed scope of work, we contacted the environmental office, we obtained the drawings, we obtained HVAC, we obtained soil samples and measurements from septic representative, we obtained building permit information.

In this case, is the contractor claiming legitimate 100 hours of work that go into pricing up a detailed quote? Is it normal practice to charge that from clients? He never stipulated/disclosed to us that the estimate would cost us anything. Is it standard practice to put a lien on a house in a situation such as this?

We are looking for a perspective of a contractor to educate ourselves if this is acceptable practice. We would really appreciate a "from the trenches" feedback.


Concerned Home Owner

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Date/Time5/15/2014 at 3:03:33 PM

Dan Jabs - Triton Plumbing, Winnipeg

No, you are both at fault. You for not laying out detailed plans, and the contractor for placing a bid with out knowing all the details. Unfortunately you are dealing with a poor contractor, who lacks the experience to ask the right questions.

Quotes are usaully free, so regardless of the time he/she spent on putting together the quote, they will most likely have to eat it.

I'm a plumber not a lawyer, so how the law sees it I have no idea how this could play out in court.

I recommend finding a reputable contractor who can back you in court, as to problems with the first contractor.

Sorry you got burned, good luck.


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Date/Time5/15/2014 at 4:26:41 PM

I can see the contractor billing you for his time to answer your questions through out the design process his time is worth something. My organization works defiantly to avoid this issue however as we are a design shop and builder all under one roof. so our process is to give you a estimated number by no means a detailed quote as to where the project as described by our client to us at the onset. once you agree that that number range works for you and you have decided to higher us we draft a design contract outlining the fixed and variable costs associated with the design. by doing this we clearly set the expectation for payment based on work to be completed and can advise you on the effects of any changes to the original concept as we go so your not superposed then the build quote is completed. Think of it as thought you call a attorney or accountant you expect to be charged for every call you make to them same goes with anyone taking time out of there day to give you any advice. Information is not free

The long and short of it is he is in the wrong for assuming you would know that you were going to be billed for his time to answer your questions. and you are in the wrong for not thinking his time is worth anything. His experience and knowledge should be billed. Charge for consults is standard with in our organization however we make sure the client knows the costs associated with this from the onset. as far as charging for a detailed quote that is not reasonable however charging to create a project budget is.

At the end of the day I think you need to sit down with him and have an open conversation and be prepared to compensate him some what for his time.

On another note you should also be able to see what you can do to scale back the project to bring it back into your budget. there things you as a client can do and elect to help with cost concerns.

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Date/Time5/20/2014 at 10:59:28 AM

Hi my name is Andy,

I am sorry for your circumstances. However I think Bernie from Blackstone Contacting has made some valid points in his response. It is every contractors job to insure the client is aware that their time and advice is worth something. The initial design phase is maybe the most important. We usually discuss a design phase fee with our clients before beginning. We have also had projects that did not proceed after the design phase but our client were aware of how much they were spending for that phase. When a project proceeds or does not proceed after the initial design phase at least the client has made an informed decision based on solid facts.

I am impressed that you did not proceed after realizing your limitations as that would have been a worse problem Perhaps after you meet with your contractor you can realize some savings in the project that will help your project move forward.

Hoping it works out for you


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