Contractor dispute for flooring work

wyvrn

Lifer
Feb 15, 2000
10,074
0
0
I think I have a rock solid case on this one. But I wanted to toss this into the court of public opinion to make sure I am being fair. Please read and give responses if you wish. :)

I hired a contractor to do 150 square foot of flooring for a dining area and adjoining hallway. The dining area is 120 square feet, and the hallway is 30 square feet. The work includes ripping up old worn out wood flooring (nailed not glued) and the subfloor. Then installing 3/4" playwood subfloor, hardiboard on top of that, and then generic ceramic tile to match the kitchen. Total bid was $1284, or about $8.56 per square foot. This seemed pretty reasonable to me, given the labor involved in removing the old wood floor.

I looked at 3 other contractors. I received bids from $700 to $3100, depending on replacement flooring type (carpet, tile, same wood). I threw out the highest and lowest after review, and chose one of the 2 middle estimates that seemed most reasonable. In addition, the contractor I hired came recommended by a local real estate group that contacts these guys all the time (they are just a local group in our area consisting of investors, realtors, vendors, etc..).

So the basic story is, he doesn't do the hallway. He just does the dining room, at 120 square feet. And he doesn't finish that. I had to put in the last 4 tiles myself, and do the caulking and paint for the base boards. He just never showed up to finish. His original estimate of 4 days (very reasonable for tile dry times) expanded into 14 days. Again, note he didn't actually finish this job in 2 weeks.

Our basic conversation went like this:

ME: Hey XX, I wanted to let you know that I finished the tile work last night (stayed up late, etc..). For some reason, on your last visit you did not install the last 4 tiles, or do the caulk and paint for the floorboards.

HIM: Well the tile guys I hired are normally reliable, but let me send you an updated invoice.

I get the invoice in the email, and low and behold, the amount due is almost identical to the amount as estimated! He wants all his money. I couldn't believe it. I decided to document everything, so I wrote him back expressing concerns over the lack of finishing, and why 30 square foot hallway was left out of the job. He writes back that he discounted for the 30 square feet and his $50 trip charge, but he added in his usual 20% 'Overhead and Profit' charge. He never had a trip charge on his original estimate (pdf format), and we never discussed or agreed to this. Same with overhead charge. This guy is just unbelievable.

So I wrote back the following message:

XX:

I have compared both the estimate and the invoice. I have a few comments.

I do not see a trip charge on the estimate or the invoice, nor remember
speaking about one or agreeing to one at any time.

There are several differences between the estimate and the invoice.
Mainly, the materials costs were overestimated on the estimate. On the
invoice, they are reduced in some cases, but a 'new' overhead charge of
20% appears. I want to know where the 20% overhead charge is on the
original estimate. I do not ever recall agreeing to this charge.

I think the facts are pretty clear. The original agreement was for 150
square feet of work. You performed 120 square feet of work. The work you
peformed was not finished, and I had to finish the job. It was not
finished in anywhere near the time frame that was discussed of 4 days.

For you to continue to ask for the amounts originally quoted for the 150
square feet when you did not even complete 120 square feet is
disingenuous. I expected a pro rated invoice based upon your original
estimate, discounted for 1) the 20% reduction in scope of work performed
as compared to agreed upon, 2) the fact that you did not complete even the
work that you started, and 3) the fact that you did not live up to
anywhere near your original time estimates.

I am willing to send $952 for complete payment for your services. This is
calculated by me as follows:

Original estimate = 150 square feet at $1284.00
Prorated for 120 square feet of actual work = $1027.20
Credit for unfinished work of 4 tiles and base boards = ($75)

Total Invoice = 952.20

I am prepared to remit this payment immediately. If you feel this is not a
fair amount, then I suggest we contact an arbitrator to resolve our
differences. Or you can elect to take me to small claims court, where I
would be happy to present my case to the judge.

Regards,


I am hoping he responds well to this. I don't mind going to court, but it's just a pain in the ass. I also called the real estate group and found out that during the time he was working on my property, they dropped him from their list of recommended contractors. Apparently, the complaints have started pouring in. And he owes them 'quite a bit of money', according to the vendor manager. So, I wasn't too happy about that. They are going to try and help me resolve this, but most likely, I am on my own.

Cliffs:
Hire a 'recommended' contractor
He botches job
He takes forever
Is impossible to reach
Wants all his money
I find out he has been screwing other customers, and the real estate group
I offer a fair counter proposal, and I tell him we will have to go to arbitration, or he can take me to court if he wished.
 

brandonbull

Diamond Member
May 3, 2005
6,278
1,136
126
Throughly check his licensing., take pictures and make copies of all paperwork. Don't pay the guy a penny until all work is done.

I hired a contractor to do some tile work and a blind monkey could have done a better job. The guy refused to correct the work so I refused to pay until the work was correctly done. The contractor threaten to sue me so I researched his license and it turned out it was suspended. Once I informed him that I knew about his suspended license, he went away.

 

PClark99

Diamond Member
Jan 12, 2000
3,817
65
91
Let him make the next move.

Right now you have done 100% the right thing and have been way more fair than can be expected.
 

SarcasticDwarf

Diamond Member
Jun 8, 2001
9,574
0
76
Originally posted by: PClark99
Let him make the next move.

Right now you have done 100% the right thing and have been way more fair than can be expected.
Yup. You have done everything you possibly could to resolve the issue.
 

imported_Imp

Diamond Member
Dec 20, 2005
9,148
0
0
Ah... contractors, bunch of c-suckers (we've been effed by one).

I took a course that involved construction contracting and the keypoints were lien, gaurantee and a bunch of other things to make sure the contractor finished the job. You got most of the stuff in writing, which is a good start. Before you call a lawyer, think about threatening to report them to the media or just posting flyers around about how they suck. Probably won't matter though cause people don't check the backgrounds of companies that much. Good luck.
 

TheTony

Golden Member
Jun 23, 2005
1,418
1
0
Great job on the letter for the contractor. You laid out the facts in an easy to understand fashion and made your expectations clear and justified.

I'd be suprised if he doesn't eagerly accept your offer, based on his position.
 

GasX

Lifer
Feb 8, 2001
29,033
6
81
You tell him you pay him when the job is finished.

That is your fair and final offer. If he wants to get paid, he will do the job he was hired to do. If he wants to walk away, that is fine too but it will hurt.

I have had too many shit deals with asshole contractors to handle it any other way.
 

wyvrn

Lifer
Feb 15, 2000
10,074
0
0
Originally posted by: KK
Have you heard anything yet?
Not yet. He hasn't responded to my email or called me like he said he would. Oh well, it is up to him if he wants to get paid.
 

Dubb

Platinum Member
Mar 25, 2003
2,495
0
0
This is one reason why it's good to pick the brain of someone in the industry who doesn't have a financial reason to screw you. Even if your job doesn't have the scope to require an architect/interior designer/project manager, they're good resources for finding out who does good work and who's a sleezebag.
 

Greenman

Lifer
Oct 15, 1999
19,070
3,982
136
Speaking as a contractor, I'd say you're being very reasonable. It sounds to me like the fellow is over extended and loosing control of his projects. If he does file a lien against your property, it has to go before a judge before he can perfect the lien, and if the job was not done per the contract, or it was incomplete, he won't be allowed to collect. I'd bet long odds against him filling though.

 

AlienCraft

Lifer
Nov 23, 2002
10,539
0
0
Originally posted by: wyvrn
Originally posted by: KK
Have you heard anything yet?
Not yet. He hasn't responded to my email or called me like he said he would. Oh well, it is up to him if he wants to get paid.
You haven't said what the status of his Contractor's License is.
If he's operating without a license, send in the dogs.

Send him the adjusted check via Mail requiring sig for delivery.


On the back of said check write "Endorsement of check accepts payment in full for invoice 123456789". This is the "contract"part of a check.




 

Greenman

Lifer
Oct 15, 1999
19,070
3,982
136
Originally posted by: Imp
Ah... contractors, bunch of c-suckers (we've been effed by one).

I took a course that involved construction contracting and the keypoints were lien, gaurantee and a bunch of other things to make sure the contractor finished the job. You got most of the stuff in writing, which is a good start. Before you call a lawyer, think about threatening to report them to the media or just posting flyers around about how they suck. Probably won't matter though cause people don't check the backgrounds of companies that much. Good luck.
Were not all thieves, but there are more than a few contractors that appear to be brain dead and lazy. The biggest problem most contractors have is that they don't understand that the single most valuable asset they have is their prior clients. Each one of them is worth tens of thousands in future income, keep them happy and they will write you checks for years, and tell all of their friends about you, piss them off and they'll curse you at every opportunity to anyone that will listen.
 

waffleironhead

Diamond Member
Aug 10, 2005
6,774
285
136
Did the contract say the date that the work would be done by guaranteed? I remember vaguely from school that no judge will hold a contractor liable if the work takes longer than estimated because thats just it, it is an estimate. Things come up and some delays are not the contractors fault(ie not under his control). The proration of him not doing the hallway is fair if he never intended to do the hallway, but if he intended to do the hallway and has the materials to finish the job then you should pay him for the materials. The four remaining tiles and trim boards are kinda iffy to me. Did you have it in the contract that you could finish the job?
Im not trying to take sides here, Im just trying to look at things from the other perspective. Feel free to tear apart what I have written.

 

wyvrn

Lifer
Feb 15, 2000
10,074
0
0
Originally posted by: waffleironhead
Did the contract say the date that the work would be done by guaranteed? I remember vaguely from school that no judge will hold a contractor liable if the work takes longer than estimated because thats just it, it is an estimate. Things come up and some delays are not the contractors fault(ie not under his control). The proration of him not doing the hallway is fair if he never intended to do the hallway, but if he intended to do the hallway and has the materials to finish the job then you should pay him for the materials. The four remaining tiles and trim boards are kinda iffy to me. Did you have it in the contract that you could finish the job?
Im not trying to take sides here, Im just trying to look at things from the other perspective. Feel free to tear apart what I have written.
Some good questions. He wanted to charge me $62 to paint and caulk the trim boards, so yeah, he needs to do it. He called it out specifically on the estimate.

He is not coming back out to finish the hallway. He never offered, just thought I should be satisfied with the dining room. Also, it is interesting to note that his materials just ended up covering the dining room only, after I counted how many tiles, square feet of hardiboard, etc... So I think he miscommunicated to his sub contractors what the job was.

The contract does not give a finish date, but we talked about 4 days. However taking 14 to do a tile job is not reasonable under any circumstances. Especially since he didn't finish, and didn't answer phone calls.
 

waffleironhead

Diamond Member
Aug 10, 2005
6,774
285
136
Originally posted by: wyvrn
[
Some good questions. He wanted to charge me $62 to paint and caulk the trim boards, so yeah, he needs to do it. He called it out specifically on the estimate.

He is not coming back out to finish the hallway. He never offered, just thought I should be satisfied with the dining room. Also, it is interesting to note that his materials just ended up covering the dining room only, after I counted how many tiles, square feet of hardiboard, etc... So I think he miscommunicated to his sub contractors what the job was.

The contract does not give a finish date, but we talked about 4 days. However taking 14 to do a tile job is not reasonable under any circumstances. Especially since he didn't finish, and didn't answer phone calls.
Everything seems fair to me then. You seem to have given him the opportunity to finish the job. His lack of communication is his downfall. The fact that the hallway tiles were never purchased is bad. Guess he needs to keep a tighter rein on his subs. Probably ended up getting more work than he could manage and then every one of his clients suffered.

on a side note Do you know where he got the tiles so you can have someone finish the hallway job? Now is the time to pick them up if you still have a case with the lot number on it.
 

Iron Woode

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Oct 10, 1999
30,136
11,252
136
Originally posted by: skace
Watch holmes on homes :D
:thumbsup:

He was an expert witness in a court case a few years ago.

Don't mess with Mike Holmes. He knows his sh!t.
 

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