Home remodel run amuck

mrspackrat800January 2, 2011

Our general contractor sent us a final bill for a $65k remodel job (siding, window replacement, gutters/downspouts a few other misc things). He was supposed to complete the work in 70 days and they are now 46 days over that contracted timeframe.

He has now sent us a final bill for the final drawn of $6700 plus and additional $6,200 in charges for things like "extra" time to put up "special pieces of siding" or time to insulate our new windows and time trim the new windows. Things we thought were included in normal installation of windows/siding. He also didn't complete some major contracted things such as putting on gutters/downspouts or removing an old furnace from the garage which requires the patching of the roof. Instead, he just deducted those amounts from the bill but oddly he's made up for it in the "extras" he's charged.

Our contract states any changes to the original contract must be in writing and agreed upon/signed by both parties. During the process he ran across a problem which cost us $7,800 and we signed a contract agreeing to that additional work. So he's followed the terms of the contract for other "extra" work, so why not these other items??

My questions:

- When installing windows, he decided to order smaller windows resulting in more work to fix the opening. We were not told of his decision nor were we informed of the extra cost associated with it.

Is this typical to have to pay additional for insulating new windows or paying for additional labor as a result smaller windows? Again, we had NO idea he changed the size of the windows but even if we agreed, I would think that his original estimate should have reflected the cost of installation and if he had major problems, then he needed a change order signed by us for the additional work??

- When they sided, they used silver nails. You can see them everywhere and the stick out like a sore thumb on the white trim pieces. He said you just paint them but there are hundreds of them!

Is this typical to side using these nails or where they to do something to "cover" or disguise them? Or should they just be painted??

Also, he must have missed ordering certain siding pieces to complete the job (blocks for the light fixtures is just one example) is that typical to go after the homeowner to pay for such items? Our contract details out siding, shaker accents but we would have thought he would have ordered everything he needed to do the job. We were not informed he forgot pieces and just found out when we got the final bill.

-We were also billed for "Additional flashing, drip cap, style D flashing and gutter apron" I don't even know what those are.

Are they related to gutters/downspouts? If so, wouldn't this be included in his gutters/downspout quote?

Also, he also told us if he does the gutters he will damage the shingles which will also need repair. Does that typically happen when you put on new gutters? Our inspector told us we have 5...

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Hi, Mrspackrat

Did your contractor get a permit for the work? If so, then you can contact your local building office and ask them to check the work.

The windows should have been the same size as the old ones. You can make him replace them. (We did that.)

You are not supposed to see the nails on siding - they must have put the siding on wrong.

Do not pay him until you have talked to your county building office. It wouldn't hurt to talk to other contractors as well.

Best wishes in getting this resolved quickly.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 4:22PM
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He's taking you for whatever ride he can - hoping you won't question anything or are too ignorant to do so. Don't pay him another cent until you get what you all signed up for and he has repaired the "mistakes" (window, siding, whatever else an inspector might find that you're unaware of).

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 4:59AM
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Thanks for your posts.

To Colorcrazy - we asked the inspector to come out today and he said while it's cheaper to finish the trim work with silver nails, it's not wrong (I said siding but it was actually the trim pieces that you can see the nails). He said he wished he could fail it but couldn't. Our contractor didn't pull permits on the windows but after consulting with our lawyer the contract didn't specify each window size so we are screwed on that one.

Bottom line is we learned a very expensive lesson. We knew this guy and his family very well and are still in shock that someone we knew took us.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 3:41PM
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It sounds like your contract didn't say "change the size of the windows." It only said for him to REPLACE the windows, not to resize them. Therefore at a bare minimum he can't charge you for costs associated with resizing them, because you didn't say he was to do that in the contract, and he didn't ask for your permission to do it after the contract was signed.

Your best approach may be to insist that he change the windows back to their original size on his dime, since you never asked him to resize them, and then when he refuses to do that you say "well, in that case, I'm not paying you for any costs associated with resizing them (i.e., any work to fix the opening, reinsulate it, etc.) because I never agreed to that in the contract."

In other words, start by playing hardball ("replace all those windows with ones of the original size") and then fall back to a "compromise" position of refusing to pay for any resizing costs. If you start with your compromise position rather than your hardball position--that is, if your first approach is to refuse to pay for resizing--he's less likely to back off than he is if you present him with his worst-case scenario (having to replace all your windows on his dime).

In your shoes I would run the "contract didn't say to resize so I won't pay for resizing" argument by your lawyer, since he/she has actually read the contract, but from what you've said that seems like the argument to make.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 10:27PM
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Unfortunately, you and CRUZTAKER are in the same boat. You both hired contractors that you knew through some contact which you feel insulated you from potential problems.

We have had two large remodels over the years plus a pool built and new windows installed. We hired contractors based on their provable references. Can't say we were 100% trouble free but some small problems were easily solved.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 9:47AM
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