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Contractor's Final Bill is 25% more than signed quote!

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Posted by: from Edmonton
1/22/2020 at 5:57:43 PM

We got our basement developed by what I thought was a reputable contractor. Signed the $72000 quote AFTER he got all of his trades in to view the basement, do drawings and ensure quote accuracy. First couple of written change orders totalling $2500 approx. were approved by by us in writing....then he got "busy". We did request a few changes such as changing the flooring in a small bedroom from carpet to vinyl and tiling the whole tub top to bottom. We also were not happy with the pinkish paint tone after two applications so we asked the painter to change the colour to gray (which was the third coat). When the basement was complete, he sent us the final bill which I thought would be no more than $80K and it was $97K total. Some of the items he is charging us for are:

-$4500 for repainting and $1700 in re-stocking fees as we were no longer having ceiling tile in the basement. This was not mentioned to us at all.

-He mis-communicated the changes to our closet layout (which was his idea to change in the first place) to his sub and he is charging us for the change! I would have thought that since he acknowledged this mistake, he would end up paying for this.

-All of a sudden, things like "rounded corners like rest of house" and drawings were being added to the final invoice while he can easily have charged us for this on the original quote. The original quote state "same as upstairs" and drawings were not mentioned at all. The drawings were done complimentary as per his quoting process he advised us as they drew the basement out prior to us agreeing to hire his company.

We paid him what we thought was reasonable (which was close to $80K) based on his list of charges. We have advised him of our concerns with the final invoice via email. No reply to our concerns except: "the quote stated that final price may change and there were a few items we needed to fix in your basement as we continued with work". That is it! Now, all he wants is to get paid what he thinks is the balance ($18000) and is now threatening to place a lien on the property and get a lawyer.

I am thinking there is no way he can place on a lien as he has no signatures/approval of any sort for the rest of the change orders he sent us after all work was complete (unless he decides to forge our signatures). I am in Alberta, do you think that he can place a lien on the house or sue me for the difference? I find this whole thing so morally wrong. He also admitted to me that he had so many other jobs that it was hard for him to be present at our work site. Isn't that his job? My husband caught a lot of mistakes that should have been caught by him. They also forgot to install a telepost that we requested as the framing was bent and when I asked him about it, he said, well it passed inspection and I was trying to save you money. Huh?

Note: I sent him the last cheque instalment by mail along with a letter stating this is the final amount. This was also written on the cheque itself. He cashed it which to me is accepting that is the final payment.

REPLIES (4)
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Date/Time1/23/2020 at 12:11:51 AM

If you had no contract then he can't put a lien on your home and if additional work is done he must get a sign form from you to say yes

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Thomas from Trusted Trades in Cambridge
Date/Time1/23/2020 at 8:02:02 AM

If there is written or verbal requests by you for minor changes then you need to understand that is an agreement between you and him. In a perfect world he should have completed a change order and update the cost prior completing those tasks.

Some contractors charge a change order fee because clients can change their mind and it takes time to complete a change order.

Other contractors just make these changes and use the email correspondence between client and themselves to prove the requests were.

Simply put if you made changes like upgrading to vinyl and the repainting because you didn't like a colour. These add costs and you should be responsible for paying for these requests.

I'm not sure of the entire situation, it sounds like you weren't happy with the project. Can he put a lien? In my opinion yes.

You had an open invoice for and work on your home. You made changes, then refused to pay for them.

If he can justify these extra costs and show your requests, not only is the lien possible but likely that he'll win in court as well.

Another thing to note is your contract with him, if it's his contract he should stipulate how change orders happen. If he didn't follow his on contract in these additional charges, then you may have an agreement.

Simply put, it sounds like a project that went over budget, a little bit from you a little bit from him. Be amicable and work things out with your contractor. Hear his side of the story, and understand what is fair, and not just your best interest.

Good luck

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Date/Time1/23/2020 at 9:47:03 AM

Well im asuming if he cashed a cheque saying final amount and he has no signatures signed for any orther extras done then he is dumb.

Also as for Lien Only if he has photos of what it was before and what it is after he is done repairing it then he has authority to place a lien. But he must also prove that he did the extras.

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Date/Time1/23/2020 at 10:06:21 AM

Hi - My comments are solely based on my experience with my own clients, but if you are unhappy with any portion of the job or have concerns about the quality of workmanship, you need to protect yourself. Was there a permit issued for the project ? Whoever issued the permit would have someone become responsible for the inspections. You are entitled to copies of those inspections. If you have a concern about that bent telepost, then you can ask the inspector directly about what they have approved or not !

That lien process does protect the contractor's claim if this goes to court, but does not give the contractor any additional hold on you, it just states he was not paid for his claim. You are entitled to challenge his claim. Getting a lawyer may defer and set aside any impediment that the lien may create.

The last check probably should have not been sent. It was your settlement tool that you gave away. Don't make the assumption that because he accepted that payment your done. Lawyers have a way of twisting things to suit their client - for either side.

Mediation is available from BBB, usually at no cost to you. You can wait till he files a claim with the court house and when presented to court, make your counter claim to present the reason for not paying his extras. Most courts will try to these claims resolved thru a mediation process before taking up time nefore a sitting judge.

So to answer your question: Yes he can put a lien on your house if he has worked on the house within the last 45 days. No if it longer than that. Yes he can sue, but he must prove to the court he is owed the monies due for work completed. Suit must be filed within a specific time period which I am not sure what is the current time line.

In any event, talk with your inspector or authority who inspected the work if the permits were applied for and approved. Not all renos require permits and that should be the starting point for any challenges to the contractor.

Respectfully

Remi Corbiere

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