contractor going way over estimate

This is a discussion on contractor going way over estimate within the Small Claims Courts forum, part of the Civil Litigation category; I called a local electrician over for a quote for doing the electrical in my basement. We talked about where ...

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Old Jul 4th, 2007, 12:25 PM   #1
Kevin P
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Default contractor going way over estimate

I called a local electrician over for a quote for doing the electrical in my basement. We talked about where I wanted to run speaker wire, where I wanted outlets, putting a light on a pull chain in the future furnace room, where I wanted the GI outlet in the future washroom, etc. At the end of the discussion he said: "for about $1200 I can do pretty much anything you want down here". He continued to state how he just did a similar job, a little bit bigger, for $1400. I said future for furnace room and washroom because at the time the framing for it was not completed, but he said he could just come back and do those when we finished it. He told me the job should only take a day or two.

Well we started the job and he only spent a couple hours every other day working on my basement. Mostly taking smoke breaks and chatting on his cell phone. A good month or two went by, and after repeat trips of him coming back I asked him to bring over an up-to-date invoice for the work completed so far, so that we could make sure we were still on track for the $1200 estimate. He said yeah he was working on it, and we were a little over but not to worry it was nothing major.

The following week he came by and was finishing up some more things he forgot before we talked about the invoice. As he was finishing up he said "lets go talk about this invoice now" and we proceeded up the stairs. He stopped, turned around, pointed at me, and said "and you're lucky I even came back and finished this job knowing that you weren't going to be happy with the price. I'm being the bigger man here." Note the job wasn't even finished as far as I was concerned, and I didn't know the price at that time. He then went outside and called me out to talk about it. He showed me the invoice of $2600+ and said that I had way more requests than what was included. He said he stated that he told me the estimate was $1200-$2000 for a rough-in. Which is apparently just the basics, and he charged me for everything extra. Not once did he tell me rough-in. He then went on to say that this $2600 quote was after he took off a ton of labor and stuff like that.

I told him he was lying, because he did not say that to me. He took that personally and told me if I don't pay the invoice in 5 days he was going to lien my house and wreck my credit. He then drove away angrily leaving tools and supplies behind.

Shortly after I wrote him a registered letter stating what our contractual agreement was, and how he committed unfair practices. He called me after receiving the letter and started to discuss the invoice and tried convincing me to pay it. I outlined the following unfair practices, as in Alberta's Fair Trade Act:

Quote:
(e) to charge a price for goods or services that is more than 10%, to a maximum of $100, higher than the estimate given for those goods or services unless

(i) the consumer has expressly consented to the higher price before the goods or services are supplied, or

(ii) if the consumer requires additional or different goods and services, the consumer and the supplier agree to amend the estimate in a consumer agreement;

(f) to charge a fee for an estimate for goods or services unless the consumer

(i) is informed in advance that a fee will be charged and informed of the amount of the fee, and

(ii) has expressly consented to be charged the fee.
(t.1) a supplier’s representation regarding an agreement for continuing provision of services if the supplier fails to provide prominent and full disclosure of the details of the agreement, including duration, changes in price, renewals, extensions or amendments, or if the supplier fails to obtain the consumer’s express consent to renewals, extensions or amendments of the agreement;

(u) a supplier’s giving an estimate of the price of goods or services if the goods or services cannot be provided for that price;

(v) a supplier’s representation of the price of goods or services in such a way that a consumer might reasonably believe that the price refers to a larger package of goods or services than is the case;
During the conversation, he told me he was going to get his copy of the hours he performed and call me back right away. I received no call. The following week I received a letter from him, similar in nature to the one I sent. Although it didn't make much sense, it pretty much outlined what I said. Then at the end it said they want the full price (which they never told me what it was before) of $3600+ for the services. Then it said they will be place a lien on my property shortly.

I have not yet paid any money to him. What should I do? Do I have to pay him, then take him to court. Or can I take him to court over it before paying it? Do I have a case?

First, he never once told me that "this was extra" and "that was extra".
Secondly, he never once told me that this was just a basic rough-in.
Third, he did not even wire the stuff into the power box, or install outlets. He simply drilled holes and ran wires. I was under the impression that the estimate included this.

There are other small things which he did, such as charging for an entire box of speaker wire, when he didn't use it all. I asked him if I should get the speaker wire myself (since I can get it cheap) or does he have some. He said he usually gets it for the consumer. Later I found out he charged me for a whole box, and he charged me "Home Depot" retail prices, when in fact he didn't even purchase it from Home Depot.
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Old Jul 4th, 2007, 12:28 PM   #2
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Default Re: contractor going way over estimate

Oops, this happened in Beaumont, Alberta, Canada.

Here is a link to the Fair Trade Act
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Old Jul 5th, 2007, 05:41 PM   #3
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Default Re: contractor going way over estimate

You can let the matter go to small claims or other court. He cannot force you to pay for costs that you did not agree to. Save all notes, emails if any etc. though because you will have to show that his conduct is unreasonable and that you never agreed those charges.
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Old Jul 5th, 2007, 10:23 PM   #4
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Default Re: contractor going way over estimate

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Originally Posted by able1 View Post
You can let the matter go to small claims or other court. He cannot force you to pay for costs that you did not agree to. Save all notes, emails if any etc. though because you will have to show that his conduct is unreasonable and that you never agreed those charges.
I called a lawyer for some guidance and he said the same thing. He said to pay the amount I agreed to, and then let it go from there. If he places a lien on my house, I can file a dispute and then it is up to him to take me to court and prove the lien is legit. Even if it goes to court, I think he will lose for sure. He is not even denying that he did not tell me about the increase in price.

Thanks a lot for the advice!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2010, 01:15 PM   #5
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Confused Re: contractor going way over estimate

I have a similar situation.... though we never had a written contract. The contractor quoted me a price to build a porch, said it would take 2-3 days. He was supposed to take down the entire existing porch-- he didn't. He left the frame that was connected to the house. He left the platform, with no stairs, ect, for over a week, returned to do a little work, did not complete the project as we discussed, and then tried to charge us extra for what we DID agree to, though he didn't DO it. Another 2 weeks went by before he returned to finish the steps. He also cut the 4x4 (that was concreted in the ground) at the soil & just set the new one on TOP of it. Safe?? We received a letter from him, stating that if the difference was not received, he would charge us 15% interest each month until it was received. This month, he has threatened to put a lien on our home. First of all, how can he do that with no written contract?? Second, how can he just "tack on" added expenses that we didn't agree to, after he didn't do the porch as we agreed?? Should I be contacting anyone over this? Or ignoring his threats?
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Old Oct 16th, 2011, 09:30 AM   #6
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Wow this is all so disapointing!I'm currently building a home in Beaumont as well and am facing a similar issue. I can't believe the amount of companies that try and do this. I was researching my options as I too will not be paying the bill. My bill is also double what the estimate was. If you don't mind me asking who the electrician from Beaumont was since I am using most my trades from Beaumont.
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