Legal Questions?

Question Icon
Posted by: from Rawdon
11/7/2012 at 2:38:20 PM

I'm not sure whether you can answer this but I thought I'd ask anyway.

We have just had our bathroom re-done by a local plumber. He was someone who had done a small plumbing job for us so we knew him a little before he did the bathroom. He gave us a VERBAL quote to do the bathroom, and we assumed, maybe wrongly, that this included materials that he would need to do the job. We had purchased the bath, sink, vanity, toilet and shower so all he needed was pipework, soldering stuff etc.

He sat and worked out the quote in our kitchen and so knew exactly what had to be done. We never changed what we wanted done during this time. The quote came back at $1060.00 for the whole thing, as he said it would be done in 2 days. Fantastic.

During this renovation he let the drill slip on my bath, resulting in a large hole, necessitating it to be fixed. He offered to get this done at his own cost and eventually did. However, though we werent entirely happy with his work (it was o.k but the quality of his work didnt blow us away).

Anyway, we waited for the bill to come in only to be knocked sideways by the cost. The overall bill was for $5010!!!!! 5 times the amount of the quote. Broken down it was $2700 in labour, $1700 in materials and the rest tax.

Where do we stand with this as the estimate was verbal not written. If we pay for his original quote PLUS materials can we legally do this. We turned down other contractors due to his quote being lower.

Where do we stand! Do we have to pay it all?



User Icon
John from JALS Corporation in Welland
Date/Time11/7/2012 at 3:17:29 PM

First of all you should never have agreed on any work being started with out a written price, A verbal quote is a verbal quote your word against his/hers.

I would suggest you ask him/her for a detailed list of all the material and the time it took them do it you would no how long they where in your home.

A certified plumber would charge between $65 to $90 pr hr & a helper wage of $45 pr hr depending on your location then just do the math.

User Icon
Handyman Services in Brantford
Date/Time11/7/2012 at 3:29:44 PM


DO not pay him a cent, take this situation to court and he can be sued under the grounds of false pretest. He must have a writen quote with that he does not have a pray.

User Icon
Constantine from Constantine in Toronto
Date/Time11/7/2012 at 3:57:20 PM

First of all the biggest mistake you did it was the verbal agreement.

From the time he did the job to your house and he served you with his bill including HST you have to pay. Make sure that he has HST number registered under his name or company.

What he did to you it was not ethical and PROFFESIONAL. Try to make him lower his bill if you can and pay him. If not he has the right to put a lien on your property for the work he did.

I wish you the best luck with this problem. And never believe anyone out there these days. Always sign a contract


User Icon
Vanessa in Rawdon
Date/Time11/7/2012 at 4:03:58 PM

Kicking myself now that we never got a written quote, but no point beating myself up now...whats done is done. I was probably too trusting. Wont do that again lol...

Well the invoice is on proper headed paper with a GST/HST number printed on the bottom of the headed paper. Everything is meticulously details down to the a screw, but who am I to know whether he has "puffed" these prices up, I'm not. They could just be random numbers for all I know.

Just feel there has to be something we can do as he clearly saw us coming. I am prepared to pay for the original quoted amount, as well as materials, as that could be taken either way and he obviously used some materials to do the job, however the inflated "labour" costs I feel are just way too much and quite honestly an insult.

Thanks for all the advice so far tho, its much appreciated :)

User Icon
Date/Time11/7/2012 at 4:09:25 PM

First a quote is only an estimate for a job so it can change. It seems he used the low ball offer to secure the job( next time get every thing in writing).

Request a list of the materials he had to purchase, if you had the majority of materials on hand his bill is extremely high. Pay him what you will, if there is no written contract there isn't a lot anyone can do. He can take you to court over the remaining balance, but legal fees would exceed what he would be getting back.

I can't stress enough how important it is to have a written agreement.

It's a chance you have to take, pay or don't pay. It's also a costly lesson. I wish it was more black and white for you, but it is not.

I would also check to see if he charged you labour costs for his mistake that was suppose to come out of his pocket.

User Icon
James from Coey Stairs in Milton
Date/Time11/7/2012 at 4:11:29 PM

Putting a lein and the effort to perfect it is rarely worth the effort for any contractor. my advise would be to negociate with him to lower his bill somewhere in the middle. If he refuses to do so I would tell him to take you to court. He Doesnt have a leg to stand on as Im sure he knows that

User Icon
Date/Time11/7/2012 at 4:20:02 PM


I agree that this person was dishonest like some answers here suggest.

We all know a verbal agreement is a contract so I would pay the original amount agreed upon ($1060). The difference is what he told you he would cover out of pocket because he damaged your property. So don't pay anything for that portion of the work.

The recourse he has is to put a lien on your property for the amount he claims you owe him. Without a written and signed contract that lien won't come to fruition anyways. The worst he could do is take you to court. He probably wouldn't anyways because nobody has time and money to pay legal fees for a "maybe" decision. Especially when he has no contract explaining why he feels you owe him money.

Basically he is trying to get away with one here. Don't let it happen, guys like this are giving our business a bad rep. And as Constantine suggested, make sure this person is registered for HST. He might be taking more people's money than just yours!

Going forward, always get a written quote and sign a contract before any work begins. If there are changes along the way in a project there must be change orders provided and signed by both contractor and homeowner to be valid. This is the paper trail that protects you and the contractor in a dispute after the fact. That said, he doesn't have a contract or a change order for your job so he can't beat you in court.

It'll be good karma for you to pay what you had intended and move on. Make sure you get a reciept. Then if he ever did try to take you to court you'll have that amount immediately discounted from his claim. It would look better to the judge too, that you had paid him what you thought you agreed to.

Pat Vale

Vale Construction

User Icon
Douglas from Dougs Demolition in Plainfield
Date/Time11/7/2012 at 5:17:01 PM

No you don't as long as you have one or two people that was there as a witness if not it might be hard to beat.

You can try to talk to the contractor again.

I always suggest to do a written one at all time this way if some thing unexpected comes up there is no surprises to you.

User Icon
Date/Time11/8/2012 at 11:09:47 AM

If all the information you provided is accurate, you have a few things to fall back on.

First, I have a couple questions:

Did any extra work come up while he was working on this project?

Is there a written contract?

My only concern is that you cannot expect to be blown away by workmanship/customer service when you go with the cheapest price. I am not saying it can't happen, but it is very rare. Simply put, to offer the best quality costs money in overhead and labour.

Typically, when I quote a plumbing job, if you provide the fixtures, I am not going to charge you extra for the acetylene and solder used on the job. But the way I price compared to others, is completely different. I also rarely come in as the cheapest. I do, however, leave you with the fewest headaches!!

The best way to deal with this is to ask him to break down the new price for you. Explain that his price is four times the agreed amount, and then ask him to show you receipts for the $1700 in material, and watch his eyes hit the floor. This is, of course, assuming his new price is not justified. Sometimes unforeseen circumstances can arise during a renovation, and some contractors are better at dealing with them than others.

To avoid this in the future, put things in writing. I appreciate the informal process, you are renovating a bathroom, not building an estate home, but even just to jot down what is expected for what price, makes sure both parties are on the same page.

Remember to not let him intimidate you with aggressive behaviour, and stay calm. Stick to the facts, and reason with him like the adults you are, and don't resolve it like you would in the school yard.

Hope this helps!

Good Luck

User Icon
Date/Time11/8/2012 at 9:59:41 PM

I would think that 1000 would not be enough for a basement Reno as a no brainier and i would have jumped in just because he gave me a cheaper quote.

Looks like both of you did not do your homework before getting into this agreement. If he did a complete Reno ie. removed all walls flooring to the bone i would say that he is not far off on the labor and if he justified having to spend the material in your home i would wonder why you would not want to pay were you expecting him to swallow a loss?

User Icon
Erroll from MVP Construction in Surrey
Date/Time11/9/2012 at 2:43:55 AM

Wow, I am not going to sugar coat this. This guy is a complete joke, there is no way he can have $1700 in material if you bought all the fixtures. You said you paid for the sink, vanity, bath, toilet. You never mentioned the Faucets or shower system, or any tiling or floor. If he did all that ie tiling and floor and faucets then his price is still realy high but acceptable. If all he did is hook up the fixtures you purchased and rough in than $1060.00 is a fair price and thats all you should pay.

He has no leg to stand on as far as any liens etc. Cut him a cheque for $1100 with the words final payment written on the bottom. Even if he still wants to dispute with you he will probably cash the cheque leaving him 0 legs to stand on.

Pleasssssssssseeeeeeee dont pay this clown any more he will only continue to screw people if he thinks he can get away with it.

Search the TrustedPros directory and discover the best contractors in your area.

Find your home service pro
Great renovations start with a great contractor.

Since 2004, TrustedPros has been helping homeowners find the right contractor for their home improvements and repairs.

Post Your Project

Within hours you'll be comparing offers from top-rated professionals. It's free to post and you're under no obligation to hire.

Trustedpros Inc. does not warrant the accuracy, completeness, safety, legality or usefulness of any Content, or Whether Content is Current and up-to-date, and TrustedPros Inc. Shall have no liability whatsoever with respect to your use or reliance upon any content or for content being removed or otherwise ceasing to be available. Please refer to the terms and conditions of use of this websites for more details.

Get Free Estimates

Post your project and compare offers from top-rated pros.