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ashe42

HUGE general contractor overrun

Ashe42
9 years ago

We got the final bill for our kitchen reno and the total is about a third higher than the bid, with no warning or discussion whatsoever. Plumbing, electricity, drywall etc came in about at the estimate--the extra is virtually all GC labor. $8,000 is a lot of extra labor! This was the highest bid to begin with. We're absolutely devastated. Any suggestions? Is this normal or insane?

Comments (144)

  • GreenDesigns
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Just to clarify, a Fixed Price contract is "I will install and trim your windows to the same level as the existing windows for $900 each" If the contractor bids the price for less than the work ends up costing him in time or materials, it's on him. He eats it. If he over estimates the time that the job costs, then it's profit for him. And he'll probably underestimate one of the other jobs, so it's not like he's going to make a huge amount on a single portion of the job.

    A better Fixed Price contract takes into account "ifs". " I will install and trim your windows to the same level as the existing windows for $500 each. If there are hidden conditions behind the wall, we will execute a change order to the scope of work to reflect the new conditions. All change order have to be paid in advance of the change in scope of work, separate from the original contract amount."

    A time and materials contract is "I will charge you $100 per hour to install and trim out your windows to the level of the existing windows, plus the cost of the materials used on the job. Customer will be given copy of invoices for material, and time sheets for job time allocation. Not to exceed 10% of original estimate without prior authorization from homeowner" To many, it sounds cheaper than a fixed price, so they like time and materials. If the scope of work changes at all though, you run in to the changes costing you more than the fixed price guy.

    In neither cases is the original estimate binding to either the contractor or the homeowner. What is binding, is the contract that is signed. When you sign a time and materials contract, you are promising to pay for however much time it takes to do the job, even if it's much higher than originally estimated. You're paying set rates for the actual time.

    If you're doing something like an old house that has high potential for unseen damage, or you're wanting some unique custom work, then many contractors that will ONLY do the job by time and materials because there are just too many unknowns. And any contractor that will give you a price on something like that is not knowledgeable to do the job. Unless he bids really high ! Which in demand restoration experts can and do, and because they are in demand, have no quibbles about pricing from homeowners about rates at all.

    However, when doing a time and materials, it's incumbent on the contractor to be a good record keeper. That goes for both invoices, and the time sheets that his employees (hopefully) sign at the end of the day. May contractors that I know have their employees fill out time sheets in quarter hour increments for the different aspects of the job.

    None of them are hard cases about it, so in an 9 hour day, you might have an employee say they spend 5 hours on window trimming, and another 4 hours on wall prep for paint. It might be the other way around if you actually made them stop and write in the time as they went along, but it will all be close enough to be split out in their accounting software or Excel.

    Yes, travel time to purchase or arrange for purchase of materials IS included in a time and materials contract. (It's also included in the fixed price, but it's folded into the bid as a whole.)

    And the ONLY time a homeowner is allowed to see the invoices of a sub is for a time and materials contract, A fixed price is a bottom line deal. You can ask for a recalculation if you pull some jobs out, but don't expect the total to drop by a lot. A lot of the price of any job is that the guys are on site and can stay busy working on various projects and pulling one of the smaller projects out isn't going to save what it would cost to hire it separately from someone else.

  • Ashe42
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    No light rail; one piece trim.

    He was supposed to get back to me today but hasn't so far. I've asked for time sheets several times over the course of the project and was stone-walled. Should have been a big red flag.

    It looks as if I've been charged twice for painting the windows, as per the spreadsheet. I asked at Lowe's about window installation, just for kicks and giggles. It's $99 installation per window including trim and caulk, even paying Lowe's GC fee.

    Now, they're not Lowes, and I'd budgeted 400 per window, as per the estimate. But 900 per 30" window? REALLY?

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  • SaltLife631
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Ashe as I stated in my first post working out an amicable compromise would be my first choice in resolving this issue. I would exhaust all reasonable avenues to reach this goal. I remember you stating something to the effect of settling on a resolution where you as the customer would not be totally happy, the contractor would not be totally happy and took that to mean neither of you were "getting your way" so to speak. You have illustrated a desire to be a cooperative consumer while also expressing a sincere willingness to work things out in a cordial fashion.

    I understand the contractor is an acquaintance of sorts which I believe should have been reason enough for him to communicate with you more effectively but that is besides the point. In this case as the facts are presented by you there is no excuse or legal grounds for the contractors' outright refusal to produce and review a record of the time spent on the job with you the customer, in fact it is unethical. If you find yourself getting nowhere you may suggest mediation, your court clerk could recommend a reputable mediation program. If none of the above proves to be an avenue towards a resolution as others have mentioned you may be headed to small claims court. Please feel free to let me know if you feel this course of action is something you may need to explore and I will do what I can to help you look into this option as well as prepare if necessary. Small claims court is not as intimidating as it may sound and you can even sit in on cases being heard by the same court that will hear your claim beforehand in order to get a feeling for how things go.

    I would like to stress the need for trying to settle this matter out of court while at the same time reassuring you that you do have other viable actions for recourse. I empathize with the toll a situation like this can take on all areas of an individual's life. Hang in there and I sincerely wish you the best.

    This post was edited by SaltLife631 on Wed, Sep 11, 13 at 13:22

  • jellytoast
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I, too, would try to reach a compromise, but I would not be stonewalled into paying for a bunch of inflated extra charges simply because I was billed for them.

  • sjhockeyfan325
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Just curious where in CA you are jelly toast, since I'm going to be looking for a cabinet installer soon.

  • Ashe42
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Whoa, I forgot to hit refresh before my last post. You all are the most helpful people on earth! SaltLife, I appreciate the offer and I may have to take you up on it if things don't resolve.

    I still haven't sat down and really added up the items on the spreadsheet the contractor left, but I was blown away to discover almost $2,000 for 'accounting and project management.' (All that creative accounting takes time. It also takes a lot of time to properly screw up the lighting.) Estimate: 0.

    Contractor fees (at 15% of time and materials) total 50% over the estimate. I don't even see how that's possible if the estimate is 35% over.

    24.5 labor hours for drywalling and priming around the little post at the end of the counter, which totals almost 1,000. Either the labor time or the price is wrong. Neither makes sense.

    It's as if they're not even trying to make sense, actually. It's more of a big '**** you, I'll charge what I want.

    I do see where I didn't allow for installation of the plywood base for the countertop (which will be tiled). $750 seems steep but I wouldn't argue if everything else was correct. So we're down to a mere $7250 over estimate.

    Anyway, I actually feel more cheerful because any judge, if it comes to that, will just be in hysterics. Must take a video of the lighting.

  • Vertise
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    "It's more of a big '**** you"

    No doubt. He thinks you're dumb, he's smarter than you and can get away with bs'ing you or thinks you won't pursue.

    It ran 3 days to drywall the post, dry time. So I guess he charged you 8 hours a day, lol.

    I wouldn't pay any questionable charges until there is a clear accounting, including changes that reflect the work that was *not* done. You did not interrupt his work flow, in that he often only showed up an hour or two at a time. That is a very costly way to work, at your expense. You, too, have rights as a customer for a reasonable execution.

    You could also have your lawyer draft a letter, so he knows you mean business.

  • sjhockeyfan325
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Query (seriously) - when a contract is time and materials, should a contractor include his own time for "project management and accounting" and then mark that up by his fee, too, or should the "time" part of the contract only include the crew's time for actual work? (I ask because I'm about to start a project, and last time we did one each member of the GC's crew, including himself, had an hourly rate associated with his time, but the GC did not charge for "project management and accounting", just for the actual time he himself did on the project).

  • jellytoast
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    "Accounting fees" ... for real? I guess charging for that would be one way to discourage customers from asking for an accounting of the actual charges.

    $750 for installation of a plywood base on the counter tops? Those are some really high prices your guy is throwing at you.

    I don't care if what this guy gave you up front was only and "estimate" and shouldn't be relied upon for his actual expenses as some others have suggested. His estimate was so far off that it is practically useless. Did he have any project management and accounting fees in his estimate, or did he just throw them in there at the final billing?

  • raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    All I can say is, my drywall crew took a total of about 4 hours actual time (but with 3 people working) to tape, mud and sand my entire 13x11 kitchen. (clarification-- not all of every wall needed work, but the majority of the wall space did get at least a skim coat.) So that would be 12 hours of labor.

  • calumin
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    This is one reason why fixed bid contracts are nice - nobody likes to see the process of sausage being made.

    In T&M, of course project management time should be billable. It is time spent, so it should be paid for.

    I don't think GCs do themselves a service by adding a markup fee for labor. There should be a single customer-facing fee for labor - any underlying fee he negotiates for his subs (or himself!) should be transparent to the customer. A labor markup fee is just another thing to make customers upset, for no reason.

  • Ashe42
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    SJHockey fan: obviously I'm not the right person to ask about that!

    Here's another question--I asked about the electrician's hourly fee because they simply didn't work the stated hours (I was there). He said their $35/hour starts from the time they leave the shop and ends when they get back...regardless of McFlurrie stops en route.

    So at 2 AM I started wondering whether the contractor's guys were charging for that too. If so...no wonder they loved working a couple of hours at a time!

    Snookums and Raee: Yeah, the GC's $1000 drywall charge was right next to the drywall contractor's charge of $1500 to do 4 walls and the ceiling right through the kitchen and dining room. No sense of irony.

    Jellytoast: No, there were no accounting fees in the estimate. Zip, zero. No mention of project management either. In the UK they're cracking down on companies charging exorbitant 900 line fees for calls to customer service because it's so clearly an attempt to discourage complaints. I guess that's what 'accounting fees' are.

    The contractor flat-out said he forgot that it would cost $500 per window for exterior trim so that's why it wasn't included in the estimate. I guess he forgot the mysterious project management fee, too.

    There was no transparency in any of this. The estimate was apparently a drunk's scribble on a cocktail napkin--and when a contractor says to your face that he knew the billing was out of whack but declined to tell you, and that he knew at pretty much the same time his worker told me it was all on budget, he's clearly a very poor GC.

    I really do feel mortified by the stupid mistakes I made. I see disputes every day...I just didn't think it would happen to me, especially with a 'friend.' I have never had this happen with any other contractor. I'm generally pretty easy to get along with....I think.

    We were planning to build a house with this company in about a year. This was kind of a test run. Obviously we won't be doing that now.

  • jellytoast
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Ashe, I fired an electrician for charging me a "trip charge" every time he came out ... he'd work for an hour or two, get a phone call and say he had to go to another job, and then charge the trip charge every time. Complete BS. The next electrician we hired did not charge a trip charge (even though he came from further away), put in a full day every time he was on the job, and never charged a dime for time that he wasn't actually here working. Electrical was the only trade that we hired on a time and materials basis, BTW. But he did give us an estimate based on the scope of work that I gave him, and when he made an error that resulted in extra labor for himself, he did not charge me for it.

    I hope like hell that you aren't actually thinking of paying your guy for these ridiculous charges. $750.00 to cut and nail a rough top on cabinets is crazy. We had actual windows installed for around $500 a piece INCLUDING the window, so to charge $500 for the trim not only seems steep, but actually crazy as well.

    We are in the business and don't know of anyone who charges for time to and from a job site OR "accounting fees." If this is a common practice, we've certainly never run across it. And if they intended to do that, they should have been up front about it from the get-go, because really, who would expect that sort of thing? And if your GC is taking his fee onto these "driving" hours, you are getting ripped off twice.

    If I were in your position, I'd tell him flat-out to come up with a more realistic and honest bill if he has hopes of getting paid any time soon.

  • Ashe42
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    The funny thing is he complained about how much time he'd spent going over the figures and then said 'hmmm...that seems excessive' when I asked about that $1500 exterior trim bill. I'm hoping that I haven't heard from him yet because he has found a big glitch in his accounting software. There has to be one. I just can't believe they mean to rip me off like this.

    I had already paid all but the last $4200 or so...unfortunately, with all the other stuff going on, such as my mom's illness and my FIL's illness and death, I didn't go through the bills thoroughly before, just wrote checks. Again, stupid me--I trusted them.

    They totally blew me off about the lights and all the other things that are wrong until they got the full details of everything I am unhappy about (including a 1 inch interior gap under one of those expensive windows LOL) and realized that I was serious. Then all of a sudden, wow, yes, the lights ARE lousy even if "they work."

    The rough top is on a breakfast bar as well--total SF about 88 I think. Price didn't include material. Is that really a lot? I was going to ask a tile installer what they would charge.

    What business exactly are you in?

    It has been helpful to hear all the advice about what's normal and how contracts should be written. Wish I'd checked this site BEFORE I made moronic decisions.

  • bookworm4321
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Ashe, we've all made mistakes when involved with real life problems, e.g. Fil's illness. Because you kept paying, he felt he could keep on ripping you off. Let him know you will contact the state board that oversees his GC license. Let him be under the gun to have his files reviewed. Perhaps others have already filed complaints? Don't hesitate to let him know you will begin with your attorney or small claims court.

    Point is, you are now looking at your kitchen, finding lots of flaws, and want them corrected. Even if you overpaid, you expect good craftmanship.

  • foodonastump
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    You owe $4200 off the original quote or off the final bill?

  • Ashe42
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    $4200 of the final bill.

    Yes, this will definitely go to the state contractor's board if it isn't resolved--and to plenty of other places, too.

    I don't think I'd be quite so furious if they hadn't made some pretty asinine comments. Saying that sure they knew the budget was blown was one of them.

    I'm willing to be reasonable and I'm willing to acknowledge things I did wrong, but I'm not willing to just be unmercifully ripped off.

    The dishwasher guy came today and laughed his tail off over the window costs. And yes--the dishwasher pump is blown, and there's a good chance it's because I ran it without water after the kitchen was cleared for use.

  • Vertise
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I can't imagine an electrician charging only $35 an hour. Can't remember but ours were, I think, at least $120/hour. The trip charges, I have had happen and it doesn't seem uncommon. I think others just build it in, if they are not upfront about it. Who gets paid to drive to work? You at least have to work a full day for that, lol. Have had the shorties too, lol. Paid for lots of driving around!! Probably at about 25mph.

    I'm glad to hear you are not going to take this lying down. The charges are an asinine insult to your intelligence. Or a sign of his, lol. Anyway, maybe get someone in (another GC, the township, an inspector) to review the project and charges. An audit, so to speak. Then you have solid ground in mediation/court. You need an outside professional opinion from someone in the field to justify your complaints.

  • Ashe42
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    These are like electrical laborers, don't forget--the contractor told them (apparently badly) where to put things and they put them there. Or not. Don't know what happened...but I think that's a whole lot different from regular call charges.

    Just for comparison, a breaker mysteriously blew after they moved the wiring (I've never had a breaker blow before, although I've re-set a few over the years) and they charged $200 to come and fix that. Took about 20 minutes.

    Anyway, my real problem isn't with the electrician--he came in about on budget, even if he did a lousy job, and I wouldn't have even looked at his hours if I wasn't struggling to understand the bills.

    As you say, Snookums, the charges are an insult. I'm not sure that I could get anyone to review the project--it's a small town--but that's a good suggestion if it comes to that.

    During the meeting the contractor kept saying 'we hate it when a FRIEND is disappointed.' I hate it when a friend hands me a bill for at least $5000 in bogus charges-- possibly as a result of my ordering the floor myself from a flooring contractor that wasn't trying to unload his totally unsuitable excess material. But why didn't he talk to me about it like a grown-up?

    We all censor what we say. As a friend, I shut my mouth over many things, e.g. when the electrician moved the wiring into a space where a bookcase was supposed to go (another thing in the plan I expected to get and didn't) because neither the GC nor the electrician looked at the plan first. But when I shut my mouth, I don't later hand someone the bill.

  • foodonastump
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I wish you owed more. That way you could offer him X if he accepts it as final payment or the full Y if he takes you to court and wins. His response would be an indication of whether these are bogus charges or not. But at this point it sounds like you already overpaid (according to you) so you have less leverage.

  • Vertise
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    "Anyway, my real problem isn't with the electrician--he came in about on budget, even if he did a lousy job,"

    That would be an area I'd be very concerned about. Budget smudget. I would be having all the electrical work inspected, if it hasn't been done already. Idiots. No electrician. You don't want to mess with these things. The breaker blowing would concern me even more.

  • Ashe42
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    What makes a breaker go bad? I honestly never questioned this when they said "sometimes they just go bad." I don't remember the circuit for that room (a bathroom) ever tripping before, and all I can see online is that repeated tripping is what does it.

    Maybe they were the ones tripping hahaha.

  • Vertise
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    The only thing I know of is breakers tripping (or fuses blow if that's the type) because the circuit is overloaded. Not sure what a breaker "blowing" means. Do you know what they did to repair it? Flip the switch, lol? $80 service call, $120 for the one hour minimum labor.

  • Ashe42
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Nope, it wasn't tripped--those I can reset, and believe me, I tried! It went bad and had to be completely replaced. Or at least, that's what I was told. A breaker doesn't cost much but I wouldn't want to do that myself although someone less prone to shocks could probably do it...

  • debrak2008
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    We had a breaker go bad in a cabin. Given the whole situation I would have the electrical inspector or another electrician go over the whole system. Maybe I've seen too many episodes of holmes on homes.

  • foodonastump
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I've had two breakers go bad in my house over the past 12 years. First time I called an electrician because I thought there must be a short. He just replaced the breaker and said "it happens." Second time (different breaker) I replaced it myself. No problems since.

    I'm not an electrician by a long shot, but my guess is that flipping the breakers during construction just happened to stress one. If it's not tripping during normal use I'd assume it's ok.

  • Vertise
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I second debrak to get the electrical inspected regardless of the breaker issue, given the whole situation has been shoddy.

  • Ashe42
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Yet another question if anyone's still around: the contractor still has not got back to me about the obvious errors in his spreadsheet, but is now very keen to get the lights fixed and the dishwasher replaced.

    He, or rather the guy doing the actual work who I think is a partner, totally blew me off about the terrible lighting before I withheld part of the final invoice.

    Am I limiting my options for court or whatever if I accept the work? I feel as if he's positioning himself to show what a great guy he is and how he costs more because he's not happy til I'm happy blah blah.

    Before I'd realized how much they'd added to the budget, I'd decided to suck it up on the lights and have a decent electrician add 3 cans--not perfect, but relatively simple. When he came to look at it and say why yes, the lighting does suck, he re-marked everything, which will involve ceiling repair. I'm actually uncomfortable with having the electrician in the house but it may be the best thing to do. Otherwise I could end up stuck with the ridiculous bill AND a bill for a different electrician.

    What do you think?

  • foodonastump
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Well if there's ONE thing I would want it would be to have my kitchen done right. I'd just confirm, in writing, that he's not going to add to the bill which you're already in disagreement about, for this correction.

  • SparklingWater
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    "When he came to look at it and say why yes, the lighting does suck, he re-marked everything, which will involve ceiling repair. I'm actually uncomfortable with having the electrician in the house but it may be the best thing to do. Otherwise I could end up stuck with the ridiculous bill AND a bill for a different electrician."

    Having walked slightly in those shoes in a recent kitchen remodel, I understand your double think, which is actually clear thinking imho.

    That said, if the GC has offered to fix the blundered electrical and ceiling job on his dime and time (which you'll have in writing of course), then I'd be prone to allowing such to keep the job moving forward to conclusion for sanity reasons.

    This would be incumbent on your full understanding if part of the original $8000 overrun included labor, costs, etc for the lighting and if it did, how so? Was the electrician ringing up the bill as he tried to figure his problems out, rather than seeking GC input for alternative solutions?

    In my medium size kitchen (main kitchen and eat in pantry), I found electrical to be a cost driver above that anticipated. It definitely fell into the "extra 10% or more" planning folder. Some was definitely due to GC insistence, e.g., direct wire vs low voltage wire/transformer. He won, I paid.

    Btw, how are your floors holding up with all this traffic and potential redoing. Don't forget about your floors.

    Good luck to you.

  • SaltLife631
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Yes and no. You are not limiting yourself in court with regard to the overages unrelated to the electrical issues, you already paid him to properly install the lighting and to complete the other necessary electrical work. However if he were to fix the electrical work to your satisfaction you would not be able to go after that portion of the bill in court.

    If you are uncomfortable with the original electrician I would find another one with the understanding that you may or may not recoup that portion of the bill. Electrical work is not something you want to leave haphazard. It may be worth it to have another electrician you trust do the additional work so they can also check the work that has already been done. Small claims courts have a limit on the amount of money you can pursue. You will need to check with the proper court personnel in your area to make sure you don't exceed that limit with the addition of the electrical work to the other overages.

    Well organized people who can accurately convey their account of what happened with evidentiary support are who wins in small claims court. This is definitely a case of you get back what you put in. You will need to be well prepared and able to provide detailed records of what happened. Some of these records may come in the form of contracts, payment receipts, time logs as well as anything else you feel gives credence to your claim such as emails where you asked the contractor to review his time logs. While you may have been quiet about certain issues throughout this process such as your bookcase, court is not the time to be quiet, these issues as well as others such as the dishwasher should be brought up. You will want to stick to the facts as they are in your favor. From this point forward you should communicate with your contractor via certified letter, email or text and do not give him any more money. It would be worth your time to create a record of who worked which days and for how long they worked. While it would have been more efficient to keep a running tally this can be done after the fact and would illustrate to whoever is hearing your case that you are on top of things. Creating your own record of time worked would give you and the court a point of reference to compare to what the contractor presents. Obtaining what is known as a second opinion letter from another professional in the field would help your case. These letters are often used in credit card disputes with contractors. The letter should state the issue is a direct result of the contractor you are working with and specifically mention that contractor by name.

    Good luck...

    This post was edited by SaltLife631 on Sun, Sep 15, 13 at 14:45

  • jellytoast
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Ashe, are you sure he's not going to bill you for this "extra" work to fix the lighting? Does he have any reason to believe that the only reason you are withholding final payment is because the electrical is insufficient? It's now been two weeks that you have been waiting for an accurate bill. That is unacceptable. If he had been keeping accurate records, that bill would have been at his fingertips. Have you made a list of all the charges that you find questionable?

  • Circus Peanut
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    If he has time to fix his prior mistakes, he has time to look over the massively inaccurate accounting in his final bill, no? I'd personally ask him to prioritize his time for ironing that out, first, before doing any more work. That said, I have no experience with iffy contractors, so definitely listen to SaltLife's wise advice.

  • Ashe42
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    The electrical costs weren't any higher than anticipated apart from an additional $1,000 to move wiring, which I'd agreed to. The electrician didn't try to figure out any problems--including how to actually light the kitchen lol!

    The extra costs are actually $7000, not $8000, now that I allow for the plywood countertop base I guess was not included in the estimate, and the $200 trip charge for the electrical breaker that blew.

    The costs come from:

    $2000 project management fee (estimate: 0)
    $1000 to drywall the post lol
    $2000 apparent spreadsheet error
    $1800 extra for installing cabinets
    $1500 for exterior trim
    $400 error in 15% GC fee on total that also includes $2000 spreadsheet error...

    which actually adds up in a way that makes me, too, want to go eat salt and vinegar chips. But I think there were a couple of subtractions from estimate elsewhere that made my $7,000 figure fairly round.

    I'm pretty reasonable--I don't mind if it cost a bit extra. If he could justify $2000, I'd swallow that. But this is just ridiculous.

  • jellytoast
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I have to LOL at that $750 to cut and install the plywood rough top, too ... that's outrageous.

  • sjhockeyfan325
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Electricians are not lighting consultants!

  • Vertise
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I agree that electricians are not lighting consultants, so expectations should be on the lower end there. But, everyone cannot afford design consultants for everything. Some can barely afford to get the work done at all. So, if you are on your own, you should do your own research, talk to the lighting stores (not necessarily well trained either), talk to the electrician who does installations and sees the results at work all the time, so is not exactly inexperienced. They should have been able to do better than a half dark kitchen! And I believe a lot of them will advise on layouts or give advice. Mine did when I asked about whether my plan would have sufficient lighting.

    This post was edited by snookums2 on Sun, Sep 15, 13 at 20:09

  • foodonastump
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    If there's one charge I ABSOLUTELY would not pay it's the $2000 project management fee. Forget the fact that he did a crap job of managing the project, but if that was not laid out in the original contract then he's got no right to spring that on you now.

    I think you really just need to play hardball. Give him an ultimatum. Offer him X as a middle ground if he makes everything right with no additional cost, or "sue me if you want one more penny out of me and want me to bad-mouth you wherever I can." Include a required date of written response so that you can move abead with new workers without much further delay. In good faith, X should be a bit more than you think he's owed, and you should make that very clear when you present the offer. He sounds like he's got a decnt sized operation; I'd be shocked if he didn't just write this one off even if he genuinely feels he's owed the money. Of course any hope of warranty work probably goes flying out the door so you have to decide if you're comfortable with that.

    I once sent a certified letter to a contractor telling him to stay the F out of my house and I'd finish the job myself and don't you dare come looking for money. I never heard back from him save for a corporate holiday card, which I found quite amusing. Much smaller job in my case, I figure I ended up about $1500 ahead because I was capable of completing it on my own

    This post was edited by foodonastump on Sun, Sep 15, 13 at 20:26

  • Ashe42
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Whoa, I've really got to learn to refresh before I post something that I started writing before getting a lengthy phone call and cooking dinner.

    Good advice, SaltLife; I've been printing out emails, texts etc. He already told me that the builder had had no idea the floors were going in and showed up with a crew--which is totally ridiculous and I have the texts to prove that. Presumably that's at least a few hours of the billing. The limit here for small claims is $5,000, so that would be OK with me.

    I will also need to take some photos, which speak louder than Donald Trump.

    I can't agree that electricians aren't lighting consultants--while they may not do a sophisticated plan, a competent electrical contractor who's used to working on new houses should understand how 'the cone of light' works and how far from counters can lights should be. I'm pretty sure 5 feet is too far.

    If he is supposed to put a light over the stove and a light over the window and has a tape measure and a plan in his hand, he should also be able to get that done pretty accurately. Ditto the supervising GC, who confidently told me that the electrician was good at placing things.

    I'm not at all a picky person but this was pretty egregious.

  • Vertise
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    P.S. I should have said "they are not lighting designers". They don't get into all the detail and technical stuff that a trained lighting designer does. I agree, that they know basic lighting plans, if only through experience, and should know the basics of how to place them.

    I don't think you owe him a penny more at this point and don't see why you should give him half of the extra charges. He can't justify them and all the original work wasn't even done. He did a lousy job and his charges for some things are outrageous. He doesn't deserve a bonus.

    This post was edited by snookums2 on Sun, Sep 15, 13 at 23:57

  • Kim
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Any updates?

  • jellytoast
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Bump ... curious as to whether or not a resolution was reached.

  • buildinva
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Another bump. Please update us!

  • Ashe42
    Original Author
    8 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Whoopsie--sorry; I've been snowed under and haven't visited for a while. But no resolution yet anyway.

    The giant hole (OK, inch-wide gap) under the window has been filled and covered with trim. The electrician came back last week to change the kitchen lights around so that I can actually see now, and the resulting holes in my new ceiling will be patched tomorrow. It's amazing the way everyone totally blew me off until I balked at the bill!

    The contractor had said he didn't want to go over his revised billing until everything was finished up--presumably so that he'd have extra time for MSU. I'll report back when he gets back to me.

    The moral of the story is, to me, that I should be more of a rhymes-with-witch when people are working. If you're friendly and easy-going (which I think I mostly am when I'm not being a total cow) then people just walk all over you. It's very discouraging.

  • SaltLife631
    8 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I am glad that some of your issues are being remedied. One important thing to note is that you are not responsible for funding the extra time spent on rectifying items that were done incorrectly by the general contractor or subcontractors.

  • Ashe42
    Original Author
    8 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Yeah-got that in writing! I wasn't taking any chances there!

    They originally told me that if I wanted the lighting corrected I would have to pay for it as 'the lights work' --i.e. they switch on and off. The drywall repair guy took one look at the holes and said "how did they they ever think those would work?"

  • Ashe42
    Original Author
    8 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Well, they got the lighting fixed and replaced the dishwasher. The GC had said he'd sit down and go over the bills once this stuff was done.

    He didn't. He just re-sent the bill. So I filed a complaint via online dispute resolution and had it sent by certified mail. Haven't heard a dickey bird back.

    If I had had any thoughts of letting it go, those completely vanished when I discovered that Yin and Yang the genius electricians had disconnected my freaking heating. Even the guy from the power company (it's an ETS heater) was floored by that one. He fixed it and I added the bill to my tale of woe; now I've discovered that they've likely also disconnected the baseboard heaters in another room. I am going to have to have an electrician come out and go over everything. It was inspected, but apparently not for idiot blunders.

    Also, thanks to JellyToast for mentioning that $750 (actually $768, not including materials) was OTT for the rough counter. I'm so naive I hadn't even questioned that. I asked the tile contractor how much he'd have charged and he said "$100--and by the way, this isn't a very good job." When I told him how much they'd charged he was in hysterics--said either they're seriously incompetent or they're crooks.

    In my complaint I offered to pay $2000 over the expected costs, plus $300 for countertop (3 x tile contractor's bid is pretty generous IMO) and asked for cost of electrical repair. I'm prepared to compromise; I'm just not prepared to bend over.

    I am still in shock over the whole thing; I NEVER would have expected this to happen. It still doesn't square with my perception of these guys. But I've come to terms with the fact that if I have to go to court, that's what I'll have to do. I really don't care at this point.

  • jellytoast
    8 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Ashe42, thanks so much for the update, though I sure wish it were better news. I am just blown away that this still isn't resolved after all this time.

    Good for you for taking a stand and refusing to just open your wallet to those ridiculous charges. I'm thinking it's likely he didn't "go over the bills" when he was done because he knew he couldn't justify the charges.

    Hoping for a quick compromise for you so that you can move on and put that nightmare behind you. Please do let us know how it all pans out in the end.

  • detroit_burb
    8 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Ashe,
    have you looked up the licenses of every person this GC brought to your jobsite to make sure they are all licensed?

    you can file complaints on the electrician's license to your state, and file the same complaint to the GC license because he hired the incompetent electrician.

    you can send copies of all of your issues to your municipality where the permits were pulled as well and let them know there is an ongoing dispute. this may prevent them from getting permits to do work in your municipality.

    also, post complaints on yelp.

  • Ashe42
    Original Author
    8 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    @ detroit: Pretty sure the electrical contractor is licensed, but the people who did the actual work--no idea! Everything was inspected and passed but I'm nervous about what else they might have unhooked. Don't think the inspector went up in the attic where there's a lot of wiring work.

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