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Contractor Change Order for Cabinet Mistake10/25/17
I have a situation where a contractor is installing a high end distressed alder kitchen that we built. There was a mistake with the hood dimensions, and the contractor claimed he needed to relocate the pipes on the sink wall, which was not necessary. The contractor made the adjustments without notifying me, and presented me with a Change Order for $2,700 with no hourly breakdown, and no cost per hour. I am furious at not being notified before making the changes. The work apparently took a day with minimal materials. Let's say 2 guys, 16 hours at $75/hr = $1,200? My contract is with the homeowner, and I have been paid in full. When the shoe is on the other foot, when we need to fix a mistake done by contractors, or other trades we never charge full burn (this bothers me more than anything). I have refused to pay the change order, and the contractor said he will get the homeowner to pay. The homeowner is 75, trusts the contractor, and she just wants this to be over. I think the contractor looks for change order opportunities, and I don't want him paid for his predatory behavior. What do you think?
If what you say is accurate it does sound like this contractor is being predatory. You also mention that the homeowner has confidence in the contractor and just wants this to be over.
You agree that $1200 is reasonable for the rework. It sucks to pay the extra $1500 juice but is probably easier to just go build another cabinet and put this one in the rear view mirror.
If the contractor didn't give you the chance to fix the mistake and instead did it all himself and handed you a bill, you have a case against him.
Most of the laws state that if a mistake is made then you have to allow the person to try to fix it. You can't just hand him a bill for it.
Do you have a Contractors License? If not, you should and not a Specialty Contractor License. Then, any changes that need to contracted out can be done by you.
We always insist that all appliances that are to be built it, like Micro's and especially range hoods be delivered to our shop and we make sure they will fit.
Who made the decision to hire the Contractor to install your cabinets? You should install your cabinets if you are to be responsible for the finished product and if that means that you have to hire an installer, fine, hire someone you can trust.
I don't really know what I would do. Probably talk with the owner to start and if you feel you made a mistake, own what is fair. As for the Contractor, ask for documentation for his costs. He is probably a Scammer. If you do think that he is a Scammer, file a compliant with your State Department of Licensing. These State Departments are more helpful than you might imagine. In my State, every compliant MUST be investigated.
Do I have this right, you simply supplied the cabinetry to specs provided and signed off on, No other issue exist ? the further the contractor by separate contract was the installer and GC to all subs and plan issues ?
he may have had another reason to want this yet your were not made aware,
Generally Notice and opportunity to cure needs to exist. I believe I would make this one pass the smell test before i would pay.
Oh And thank God I stopped doing residential !
Myself, I find this concept appalling, as my policy with customers, be they individuals, designers, or contractors, is that if there is a mistake and it is my mistake, I eat it. If there is a mistake that is not mine, or a change to be made after construction, then someone else pays. This is determined before any additional work is done.
My change order states the work that will be performed, that travel will be charged at x per mile, labor will be charged at x per hour, and materials will be charged at raw cost plus x percentage. After the change order is signed, the work is performed and an itemized bill with copies of receipts is sent to the customer. Time and materials is fair to all involved.
When people ask in advance about change orders, I have said that I have a credit card, a stopwatch, and an odometer all set to zero, and they will pay all costs incurred.
That you were not informed of the situation, much less not given an opportunity to make good on it, certainly violates contracting protocol. It sounds like the GC is making you the scapegoat in the eyes of the homeowner while the GC is trying to gouge the homeowner, and your reputation may suffer as a result. Also, the homeowner may file a small claim against you if the GC lays the blame for all of this on you.
If you have any rapport with the homeowner, tell them that you feel this charge is excessive, and see if you or they can get an itemized bill from the GC. If the GC signed off on the shop drawings, and signed as having received the cabinetry as specified and in good condition, then he may be on the hook for the change. This may require arbitration, and it will be necessary to determine who is at fault, who authorized the additional work, what the incurred costs are and who is responsible for those costs.
An itemized bill will shine some facts on this situation. Remember, what one person sees as embellished billable hours another person sees as fraud.
And yes, you should do your own installations, so that situations similar to this in the future can be addressed before the fact, rather than after.
The change order has to be provided before the work, and all parties must sign off. That's the practice around here anyway.
I'm in agreement with all here- the contractor seems to be looking to gouge here. Many (contractors) get pissy when they can't get a mark up on a direct client hire and will make things stink, I've been there.
The customer is just going to pay it.
Otherwise small claims court, is one part of government that I like.
Its entirely possible a field person made the changes and PM or owner did the change order after the fact without all the information
Until we have a response from the GC we don't know how or what happened.
If your contract is with the owner and the owners separate contract is with the GC maybe the GC notified the owner and the owner didn't notify you and told the GC to proceed.
The GC had a duty to notify the owner, not the owners sub that the GC didn't contract with.
Not enough facts to solve the problem
"The GC had a duty to notify the owner, not the owners sub that the GC didn't contract with."
I disagree partially with this- the GC also had a duty to see that the party being billed was notified first.
Otherwise, it would be like me showing up at your house while you were'nt home and fixing your roof, leaving you a bill.
If the GC did the change order and the HO was the one to allow it, then the HO is the one stuck with the bill.
You can't leave the cabinet guy out of the equation and then charge him.
The contractor is asking for $2700. The OP agrees that maybe $1200 is a fair charge.This amounts to a $1500 dispute.
The contractor may be a dickhead but that's who contractors are. You knew this going in.
These kinds of things happen periodically and when they do I shrug my shoulders and realize now I need to go hose somebody else for $1500 or else come up with a formal policy in my contract that covers such eventualities.
This is actually a good thing to discuss with your client. There's a lot of moving parts to a remodel and sometimes things don't work perfectly.
My typical client comes from the tech sector. I tell them all the time to expect some amount of chaos, inefficiency and/or less than professional behavior. It's either that or they got to live in the house they have. I usually finish this part up by talking about all the bugs in their software that they expect the user to discover. They seem to understand when I put it like that.
The customer will pay for this. Otherwise, the Small Claims Court is one of the favorite government departments.