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Old 04-20-2013, 10:19 AM   #1
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Contractor question - did I just do something stupid???


I had a contractor come out to my house to take some measurements to do some work. He gave me an itemized list of the material and steps to complete the job. The list was printed on a sheet that included his company name, address, phone number, etc. At the bottom of the list was a quote for the initial fee to purchase materials, and then a second fee for the labor.

I gave the guy a check for the initial fee this morning, and then I had to quickly take off. I just now realized I didn't sign anything, nor did I get anything signed by him, and now I feel incredibly stupid. Is there a chance I just gave that guy a check that he can cash and walk away?? Or is that itemized list he gave me the same as a signed contract?? Please tell me that in my rush to leave I didn't just do something incredibly stupid...

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Old 04-20-2013, 10:23 AM   #2
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Contractor question - did I just do something stupid???


Wanted to add, this guy came highly recommended from a larger, local contractor. And I made the check out to his company name, not to him personally. Plus in the note section of the check, I specified the work it was for. Is that enough to cover me?

Man...I feel really stupid right now...

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Old 04-20-2013, 10:25 AM   #3
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Contractor question - did I just do something stupid???


Time will tell, in court that may fall under "meeting of the minds" contract.
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Old 04-20-2013, 10:29 AM   #4
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Contractor question - did I just do something stupid???


Quote:
Originally Posted by spaceman spif View Post
He gave me an itemized list of the material and steps to complete the job. The list was printed on a sheet that included his company name, address, phone number, etc.

I gave the guy a check...
Did that sheet etc include any state license information?

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Is that itemized list he gave me the same as a signed contract??
Pretty much. The bigger issue is what OTHER detail (like completion time, inspection contingency, change order protocol, etc) is or isn't stated.

Last edited by TarheelTerp; 04-20-2013 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 04-20-2013, 10:29 AM   #5
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Contractor question - did I just do something stupid???


Quote:
Originally Posted by TarheelTerp View Post
Did that sheet etc include any state license information?
Don't have it with me right now, so I'll have to check when I get home.
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Old 04-20-2013, 10:35 AM   #6
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Contractor question - did I just do something stupid???


OK here are a few thing, first yes you might have just given him a check and that is the last time you see him. or he might buy the stuff and you see him again. Now for every one out there, Here are ways to protect yourself from shady contractors.1.Never write out a check for anything till is on your property, example of that is this most contractors have accounts with lumber yards they order the stuff it comes to your home you then pay the contractor for the stuff. Never pay for work till it is done. If they balk at this think for a moment when was the last time you got paid for work you did not yet do?
2 look them up this is what I do when I hire out subs. I check them out. I find out if they are current on their workmans comp insurance. If they have a bond all that. Most states have a web site were you can go to find all that out. Now here is the reason why I do that. In the state I live in you hire an person to do work for you and they are not insured bonded they have a accident your on the hook for their problems. Not bonded they leave the job half done and you have to hire some one else. you can go after their bond. if not your out of luck. They are not paying their worker comp. guess what? you became their employer you are now having to pay their workman's comp.
So you brought up a valid question. If you feel like you might never see him again I feel for you. I hope it all works out for you.
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Old 04-20-2013, 10:44 AM   #7
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Contractor question - did I just do something stupid???


This guy is installing an egress window for me. I got his number by calling the local concrete sawing company, and they gave me his name and number. They highly recommended him and said they work with him for egress windows (he plans out how it will be done, and they come out to do the actual cutting). This concrete sawing company has been around for a long time and is in good standing with BBB.

The guy told me that the up front money is needed because the window well is custom made depending on what size I select (what we were measuring this morning) and he has to order it. So I can understand him not wanting to order a window well and I turn around later and say "Forget it" and he eats the cost. Plus when I called a couple other egress window contractors they all told me the same thing - I would have to pay up front for the well.

We'll see how this goes. I honestly don't think I got scammed, but in my rush to get the project going and then head in to work I didn't think to get signatures. Truly a "Doh!" moment.
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Old 04-20-2013, 10:48 AM   #8
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Contractor question - did I just do something stupid???


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1.Never write out a check for anything till is on your property, example of that is this most contractors have accounts with lumber yards they order the stuff it comes to your home you then pay the contractor for the stuff. Never pay for work till it is done.


1. So I'm going to spend MY money on YOUR materials. I realize they are in my possession at the moment, but I don't really have any use for them.

2. Same thing...I'm going to send my guys to your house to start working (and racking up hours that I have to pay them for), before I have a dime fom you?? I'm thinking not.

So here's how to handle contractors......don't hire them...do it yourself. Unless of course you can't do it yourself, then I guess you'll have to do what is standard...pay a deposit before anything is bought/done.
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Old 04-20-2013, 10:49 AM   #9
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So here's a question for you contractors out there - is it standard practice to ask the customer to pay up front for custom made parts that you need to order?
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Old 04-20-2013, 11:02 AM   #10
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Contractor question - did I just do something stupid???


Absolutely.

I get a deposit for all materials, but ESPECIALLY custom parts/materials.

EDIT TO ADD: Custom materials normally can't be returned, so if you (the customer) don't pay for it, it sits in my shop/warehouse/garage/basement for years until I have a need for that exact part....or maybe forever, until it degrades into an unsellable product and I throw it in the dumpster.
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Old 04-20-2013, 11:03 AM   #11
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Contractor question - did I just do something stupid???


I'm not a General Contractor, nor do I sub myself out. I have a "HandyMan" type business, duly licensed/insured/reputable in my area. I never, ever ask a customer for money up front. I do have a bid spec sheet I use which describes to the customer the pricing for materials ( after I go do the material pricing, the amount of labor I will charge, any pertinent details such as clean-up, etc. Once I set the pricing for a job--that's it. IF it is a custom made item, I do ask them to pay for this up front but give them the proper paperwork from the supplier showing exactly what is ordered and the pricing. I do not go back to the customer later and ask them for more money because I found something I missed initially-that would be my fault for missing it. Maybe some don't like my method but it has worked for me to get repeat customers and referrals. A few years ago I had to finish a project started by someone else who claimed to be licensed/insured but was not. They did the foundation for a nice deck, bought a lot of materials from the local supplier then disppeared. The homeowner made the mistake of opening an account at a big box store and had the contractors name on the account with unlimited charging for materials. Big mistake after the contractor bought some $70,000 worth of materials with very little of this being related to building a deck. His business card was a fake, his address was not his, they never found him. The homeowner had to pay the entire bill.
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Old 04-20-2013, 11:05 AM   #12
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Contractor question - did I just do something stupid???


If he went through the effort to give you an itemized list like that...I would say he is ok....not worth going to jail and/or getting a bad reputation over one little check. The fact that he came to you by referral means he has been around for awhile and realizes that there is more to be made being honest than taking advantage of you.

There is one guy I use that I trust completely. One time we left the keys in the door...when I got home a few hours later, he handed me the keys.....I know for a fact he would not enter our house without being asked to. I totally trust him....in fact, we will invite him and his wife when we have the house warming party.
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Old 04-20-2013, 11:08 AM   #13
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I do not go back to the customer later and ask them for more money because I found something I missed initially-that would be my fault for missing it.
I can somewhat agree with that....and somewhat not.

It depends on what it is. If I'm opening up a wall, and it turns out the framing is rotten and needs replaced....I'm not going to just eat that cost.

If it's something obvious, then sure...I should have seen it (as the professional) and it's my cross to bear, so to speak.
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Old 04-20-2013, 11:29 AM   #14
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In Washington State that's what the bond is for. If he's licensed he must be bonded and insured. All you'd have to do is go to Labor & Industries. If he isn't licensed then you'd also want to go to L&I but you should always get at least a receipt.
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Old 04-20-2013, 12:36 PM   #15
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Contractor question - did I just do something stupid???


Some reason you cannot pick up the phone and call the contractor suggesting you get together again to sign the contract? Or accomplish executing it next time he is on the jobsite.

You have a valid verbal contract with consideration already exchanged. Here, anything over $1K is supposed to be in writing but it sounds like you both just forgot to execute an agreement neither of you had issue with in the first place.

I would not loose sleep over this.

As for paying for materials upfront. I think this is fairly standard. I did not want to play banker for my clients and they paid for materials upfront. Progress payments were stated in contracts and expected in a timely manner too. In return, they were entitled to progess stated and detailed receipts.

Some states got so tired of contractor and client disputes clogging civil courts they now have mandatory pre-lien laws for renovation and such work. Not of much worth in homestead states until the property tries to sell if people are nasty of course. But, the idea of having property liened seems to have reduced people not wanting to pay for things after the fact.

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