How to handle a home repair going over estimate?

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_BP_

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Hello,
not very experienced on here, or with home ownership...but here's my question:
I have a chimney chase rebuild (due to water damage/leak). Original estimate was $6,000-$8,000 for labor and painting. Materials estimate $750-$950. Labor hours have gone over estimate by about 6 hours (not including the painting hours which haven't happened yet - those are expected to be 10 hours), increasing total cost to about $10,500. That's about $1500 over highest end of original estimate.

How do you more experienced folks handle situations like this?
 

oldognewtrick

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I would suggest getting a written proposal, signed beforehand that outlines the scope of work, cost involved and how any hidden fees will be handled. What is the justification for the additional charges?
 

JoeD

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Unless you are broke and can't afford it, I would pay it.
If it breaks your budget consider doing the painting your self.
 

Snoonyb

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"Original estimate was $6,000-$8,000 for labor and painting."

If this is an "estimate", subsequently contracted for, those are the limits set forth by the estimator, and contracted for, period.

"Materials estimate $750-$950"

An approximation, and how was the contract reduced if the material is less than $950?

"Labor hours have gone over estimate by about 6 hours"

So, you are expected to compensate the contractor for his lack of professionalism? Since when?

"(not including the painting hours which haven't happened yet - those are expected to be 10 hours)"

The painting and masonry repairs should have been listed, and accounted for, as separate Items.

"That's about $1500 over highest end of original estimate."

Your negotiating leverage is here;Original estimate was $6,000-$8,000 for labor and painting. Use it!
 

bud16415

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You are coming to this at an awkward point in time as you have made a somewhat open ended deal to start with. In the future before any work begins do as suggested above and go in with a plan. If he said 6000-8000 I would have asked what is it 6k or 8k? It is understandable that some items come up no one knew about before they started but those need to be dealt with one item at a time.


At this point I think you owe him the higher amount in each case you agreed to and nothing more as nothing was put in writing about things popping up.


I hate working this way. I once had a guy not willing to set a fixed price and I said ok what do you charge per hour. He gave me a number and I said ok you got 8 hours lets see what you get done and if I like it I will hire you for 8 more. We did the whole job that way.


You need to stick up for yourself or you will likely risk get taken advantage of. Get a set price and hold them to it. Hold back most of the money till you are satisfied with the job.
 

Steve123

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Sometimes, its hard to tell how much work is involved until you start ripping things down and see what is back there.

This could be why he gave you an estimate rather than a fixed price.

He should have explained this, and he should now be able to make an intelligent explanation of what extra work he is doing that he did not expect.
 

WyrTwister

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I would suggest getting a written proposal, signed beforehand that outlines the scope of work, cost involved and how any hidden fees will be handled. What is the justification for the additional charges?
Yep . But it may be a little late now .

Wyr
God bless
 

WyrTwister

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Unless you are broke and can't afford it, I would pay it.
If it breaks your budget consider doing the painting your self.
Do you consider it legit ? If so , pay it and get a written , hard bid next time .

If not legit , pay him / her off and send him / her on their way . Especially if painting is all that is left to do .

Yes , paint it yourself . Or go find a painter to do that part .

Wyr
God bless
 

_BP_

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Thanks everyone!
The logistics of the work were very difficult; on the side of my house which has a VERY narrow work space to the adjacent property. Ladders and scaffolding were unable to be used - only "pump jacks". The labor hours were under-estimated due the tight work space. Will use some of your comments to help with the next conversation about new costs... thank you!
 

bud16415

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IMO there is nothing in that job that should have been a surprise to the guy quoting it. Sure it is in a tight spot, but he could see that when he looked at what you wanted.


I don’t doubt he took longer than he thought but that isn’t your problem he doesn’t know how to estimate time. On the other hand you could have had several bids on the job and you went with his based on cost.


This is how a person learns to come in on price or eat it out of his pocket. If the way he’s working it was the correct way everyone would quote low and come in high.
 

WyrTwister

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IMO there is nothing in that job that should have been a surprise to the guy quoting it. Sure it is in a tight spot, but he could see that when he looked at what you wanted.


I don’t doubt he took longer than he thought but that isn’t your problem he doesn’t know how to estimate time. On the other hand you could have had several bids on the job and you went with his based on cost.


This is how a person learns to come in on price or eat it out of his pocket. If the way he’s working it was the correct way everyone would quote low and come in high.
Yep !

Wyr
God bless
 

slownsteady

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As mentioned, the guy could see he had a limited work space, so that should have been part of his calculation. Did he find anything in the walls that was not expected? Ask him to detail it. If you are feeling ripped off, stop him, get his bill to date and send him on his way. Sure you will have to pay someone else the same money (perhaps) but you will not feel cheated and you will have learned to hire and negotiate better in the process. By bringing in someone new, you'll also get a second opinion on the job.
PS-- that kind of scaffolding is pretty normal.
 

68bucks

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Did you ask why he ran over? If it just took more time than he thought that is his problem. If he found a bunch of hidden damage might be a different story. What I like to do is get a "not to exceed" number and if it gets done quicker then it cost a little less. Most of the time on old work if you demand a solid number the contractor will bump the price quite a but to make sure they are covered and don't loose money. If it goes smoothly and they are done quicker than expected you pay too much. You do need some level of faith in the honesty of the contractor to do a not to exceed and then basically a T&M job. But in any case you know the most you'll pay.
 

_BP_

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Did you ask why he ran over? If it just took more time than he thought that is his problem. If he found a bunch of hidden damage might be a different story. What I like to do is get a "not to exceed" number and if it gets done quicker then it cost a little less. Most of the time on old work if you demand a solid number the contractor will bump the price quite a but to make sure they are covered and don't loose money. If it goes smoothly and they are done quicker than expected you pay too much. You do need some level of faith in the honesty of the contractor to do a not to exceed and then basically a T&M job. But in any case you know the most you'll pay.
He ran over because his two workers went over the expected labor hours. There was not any unexpected damage found. It was an extremely tight, challenging work space (first posted photo shows limited space between home and adjacent fence/property; about 4 feet). BTW, this is a large local painting and construction company. The estimator and project manager are reasonable and kind, but I'm NOT too happy that the actual cost is appearing to be 15-20% above original estimate.

Original estimate has some open-ended language - "Total expected price for project, baring any unforeseen conditions is between $6,000-$8000". (not including materials).
 

bud16415

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Getting slightly off topic here and I’m not on your property seeing this with my own eyes but I’m not seeing a great deal of water damage except at the bottom maybe. In a location like that I’m getting a feeling the bottom could have been opened and new material spliced in and things might have been fine. These chase things really don’t do anything or carry any load they are mostly just for looks.


One advantage this forum has is the guys here would much rather help you from the start of a project than come in at the end and try and see if the price is right. If what I described above was true this might have been a DIY project costing a couple hundred bucks. I would have advised you to open the bottom and get some light in there and take a look before you started getting quotes.


The people here do all this on their own time for free and many are professionals that normally get paid for what they know. It is a great free service to use for projects start to finish.
 

WyrTwister

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If our people go over on labor hours , we usually have to eat it .. Whether I messed up or they messed up .

A very few customers will approve a change order , IF conditions ended up being beyond our control , hidden or outside the plans , specs , scope of work .

Wyr
God bless
 
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