Except for purchasing my dream home recently which was a very different contract, I admittedly have zero experience with contracts. I recently hired a reputable contractor and feel like I was taken advantage of, I'm seeking help defining what I can do. Hired landscaper for several large projects; circle paver patio, water feature, steps, block paver retaining wall and irrigation system.
The estimate/contract (title on actual contract) lists each feature with very little information under each heading. example; Steps, 8 steps @$220.00/step, 16 hours labor @ $65.00/hour, Poly sand to fill space between steps $35/bag plus labor Total: $2,900
Each element was listed in the same manner as the steps example. I had never heard of a T&M contract, so I thought I was going to be charged the amount listed for each project. This is how I budgeted. I asked questions about price, hours and other aspects of what was being done constantly, each time I was treated badly and told I had no reason to question him. By doing so I was saying he wasn't worth what was being charged. Then when the project was completed (although 2 projects were left unfinished) I received another estimate/contract and all prices were increased to a point where some were tripled! Material prices increased and labor increased. Looking again at the example above, I asked about 16 hours of labor since I knew they were completed in 8 hours. The answer I received was "a friend came and helped" so he doubled the total hours worked! The poly-sand was not installed, so he ran a line through the item and deducted $100 (1 bag/1hour).
I'm trying to find out what a contractor's responsibilities are to their customers. Was T&M supposed to be explained? Can I ask for copies of invoices or receipts for materials? The contract was not dated and was never signed. I asked about signing the contract, but the answer I received was "Oh, I trust you." I completely understand I should have insisted on signing but didn't. OH! I with-held my final payment when irrigation drip system was not finished, and what was installed continually blew apart, in addition, a pipe to the water feature was broken flooding the yard, and only when I couldn't get the water to stop did I learn he plumbed the water feature into my home water (at the bathroom) and not with irrigation system. Now I received papers in the mail from an online company, this company is putting a lien on my home!
If anyone can help me I would greatly appreciate it! I simply don't know what I can do and/or what this company has to provide to me about work completed, and can't seem to find much online. THANKS so much!
That was such a long message. First of all the proposal most be on paper specially for such job, from the very beguinning on time of estimate or at the time each party agree on final cost, by this time contractor should modify the contract/estimate if there was some verbal changes or he/she gave the client discount on the premise right on the spot in this case contract should get modified adding the new information. Contract should be clear enough for anyone to understad as its $$$ paper and the paper who will keep the business and relation. Most be detailed and understandable even for non technical. Unless everything was personally explained and the contract is just to keep record of it "No reccomended for mideum/large project as we can forget details and it wont be good for sure". Example the attached picture is a very small project but detailed and personally explained to client on the jobsite. At this point your choice will be talk to your contractor, if he is interested to keep relationship im sure he will spend some time to go over it with you.
Its difficult to comment on the scope of work and what each scope should cost.
Regarding a time and materials contract, it's in place due to some uncertainty in the work and to give billing flexibility to the contractor should there be cost overruns.
In my opinion, the accepted percentage range for cost overruns would be anywhere from 5%-20% above the initial stated costs. A 20% increase would represent something arising that was definitely unseen (ex. rot,
subsurface boulders and rocks, etc.)
The fact that the costs have tripled from the original stated cost numbers is unacceptable. The fact that the contractor said you have no right to question them is unacceptable. You should not pay a penny more and seek legal advice.
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