Renovations - How legal is an estimate?

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Posted by: from Victoria
10/21/2008 at 9:01:08 PM

I hired a General Contractor who turned out to be a real winner. I checked him out and he seemed ok. Checked with some references - no real problems. Signed an agreement with him which covered hourly labor costs, material costs, management fees. Got an estimate a few weeks later for $247,000. Project was suppose to be finished mid July. Well, he didn't complete some of the work, I ended up paying for cabinets and other things on his estimate which would have brought the total payable down to around $200,000. Paid him $280,000 as there was some additional electrical and plumbing not in the original estimate. Over a two week period he hit me with invoices for another $228,000 bringing the total to well over $500,000 for a $200,000 estimate. I fired him and got someone in to complete the work for $30,000. He started work in April, we are now at the end of October and it was suppose to have been finished in July. Now he wants to sue me. Any legal advice out there that you can give me? How legal is an estimate?

Thanks everyone

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Date/Time10/22/2008 at 11:58:23 AM

You can check with your lawyer on this but im sure there is nothing he can do towards you. That must be a troubled house then changing the contractor twice.

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Abba's Service in Huntsville
Date/Time10/24/2008 at 6:08:56 PM

You have got scammed my name is Michael from Abba's Service and we are a quality Contractor. At know given time that the estimate should change to that amount. and I would call a lawyer. If you agreed to pay that kind of money that is another story! Written or verbal. Verbal it is his word your word!

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Gerritos in Victoria
Date/Time10/24/2008 at 8:13:40 PM

Tim & MIchael - many thanks for your reply. I've got the lawyer on it and just can't believe any legal system would rule against me.I've also found out the contractor hasn't been paying the subs for quite a while so they're pretty p.o.d as well.

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Shawn from Arrow Contracting in Vaughan
Date/Time11/11/2008 at 8:42:46 PM

You certainly did. Firstly, an estimate is just that, an estimate. You agreed to a $200,000.00 + project without a contract that was binding to one agreed upon price? What you needed was a written and detailed quote signed and agreed to by both parties that should have included all of the particulars all inclusive. I have been in the business for many years now and I have never heard of a GC charging by the hour. It is always a price for the job all inclusive with or without materials. For that agreed upon price it is the GC's job to bring the project in on budget and to manage the project in it's entirety.This whole situation makes no sense what so ever. Did you pay him anything? If he started the project and has money invested in it that you agreed to pay, you may be liable for some of it. I am not a lawyer and I didn't see the contract you signed so I wish you the very best of luck.

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Date/Time11/28/2008 at 12:59:34 PM

As Shawn mentioned, an estimate is just that "An Estimate". If you agree to the conditions that you mentioned and if the additionals were discussed prior and mentioned to you, well you may be responsible for a good part of them. You cannot receive goods and labour for nothing as the law says, where it may differ is on a fixed cost contract and then it may be considered as resonable costs to recoop. How can the project be so far over budget??? I have also seen people that want work to be done at a price that was in their mind and the real and actual costs are far beyond what they thought. What kind of project was this?? was it a custom home?? Remember, when you receive goods and services you remain responsible to pay fair market price for it. Your best bet is to get qualified people to come in and get real estimates on the work done so that you have proof. Good luck

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Gerritos in Victoria
Date/Time11/28/2008 at 10:13:00 PM


Many thanks for the comments. I'm not looking for a free ride on this renovaition project and am prepared to pay for services received. As I see it, the floor plans and design of the renovation was not materially different from the plans the contractor estimated from the beginning. Additionals were paid by myself direct already so that should not be a factor. It was a reno project and at no time did the contractor ever mention that the costs or any changes were going to make any difference to the estimate. In my business, if I estimate something at 100, I better bring it in at that and if it is over, the first thing I would do once I know that is advise the client. You can't do TV advertizing on a radio advertizing budget but if the client wants TV, you advise him what it's going to cost. I figure it will take a Q.C. to come in and estimate the reno costs but have had other trade people in who were astounded at the costs the G.C. was estimating. Again, thanks for your comments.

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Date/Time11/30/2008 at 2:16:05 PM

Hello Gerritos,

I completely understand your situation now and you are 100% correct that any responsible GC needs to advice the client of any extras that may be asked for and or incurred. As you mentioned this was a reno and there is no way in the world that a reno should cost the kind of numbers he gave you.

I hope you can resolve this without paying a pile more money.

all the best


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