Contract Disputes

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Posted by: from Barrie
11/29/2013 at 6:54:49 PM

I have a contract with a client finishing up some work in his basement. Everything was going great, up until a week ago. We have the details, and numbers in order, but then their has been a few small add ons, that I said I could do, and now that the job is getting closer to being done, he is now "finding issues" and complaining when the work is not yet complete. He is not happy, and I am not happy.

I guess my questions are:

1) Their has been changes to our contract, as per work being done, does this negate the contract? We haven't renewed or updated it.

2) Because he is "finding issues" is he going to try to squeeze me out of money when the job is complete?

3) I would say 70% of the job is done, and he has paid about 60%, can I walk away, or will I get sued?


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Mark from CMJ Renovations in Oakville
Date/Time11/29/2013 at 8:16:35 PM

Hi Steve,

You are indeed in a sticky situation, the contract isn't dead, the work that he asked you to do extra above and beyond the original contract he is now expecting you to do for free, unless you told him it would cost a specific amount of money and add time to the job. Obviously by the sounds of it you had a bad week with him and as of right now it is your word against his if legal troubles start down the road.

My advice to you is to write him a very positive email creating yourself a paper trail and a written document of you trying to resolve the problem. I would start with something along this line, Hi Mr. So and So this week I feel we where both a little frustrated with a few issues, the issues you are talking about are a result of this and I will resolve the issues next week however I cant fix or change this because and list the reasons why. The time line changed because of the following items (list everything he asked you to do extra and be very detailed) therefore we have had add extra days/weeks etc. Remember make the letter positive, in the final sentence ask him how together you can resolve the problem, let him respond...

Contractors are always getting a bad wrap, remember it works both ways, customer complain or change there minds in the hope the contractor will walk away or give them a discount hold to your guns, let me know how you make out.



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Date/Time11/29/2013 at 8:19:41 PM

Hey Steve

Walking away at this point should not be an option. The professional thing to do is see the project through to the end and voice your concerns to the client.

If there are issues with the quality of work, take the extra time to rectify the problems to the clients satisfaction. The extra $ you spend on fixing the "issues" is less than the bad press will cost you.

There are those who seek out people to take advantage of and confuse or cloud a contract in the hopes of saving $. Stand your ground on your rates and contract and see it through to the end.

Most bullies will back off when faced with actually having to go before an arbitrator or a judge.

Hope this helps.

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Date/Time11/29/2013 at 9:17:34 PM

Without seeing your contract, it is kinda hard to say exactly what the best thing to do would be. With this in mind, I would tend to agree with the other posters.

Were you clear that the "extras" would cost him more? One cannot just assume it. In my Contracts, I have a clause about "change orders" so that the customer is aware that every time there is a "change" in what the contract stipulates, there is a $25 "administration fee." This is primarily to discourage the customer from making changes so I can stay on track. However, I am always open to "changes" (especially when they make sense) but make sure that I charge the $25 and write out (and have the customer sign) the changes and the additional costs/time.

At this point, don't walk away. Once the job is done, you should get paid. If not, then you can take him to court (I have had to do this) - just make sure your paper trail is clear and detailed. Take before, during and after pictures.

This of this as a "hard lesson learned" (goodness knows I have had to learn the hard way a few times!)

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Date/Time11/29/2013 at 9:20:00 PM

You guys are both right. Thanks a lot.

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Date/Time11/30/2013 at 8:56:50 AM

Hi Steve,

Contracts are only good as long bout sides respect, otherwise is useless paper. In most cases contract protects home owner from bad contractor then contractor from bad home owner.

You have legal write to place the lean on the property and that is best contract that protects you from this kind of clients and you should let them know that you are prepared to place the lean if you are pushed in to it. This is typical they expect something for nothing and they think if they didn't give you this job you would die from hanger.

Walking away would be mistake, but you need to secure future payments if you continue to spend more time and money on this project. Post dated cheques are always good, if nothing they are good evidence on front of the judge.

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