Contractor did work without our approval!

misobentoMarch 29, 2013

Uhhg. I need to vent.

So we were in the process of getting bids from 3 roofers (to fix a small leak).

The first guy came to the house (recommended by a Realtor we know) while we were at work (which we approved because he did not need access to the house to see the leak) and left a voice mail with what he thought the problem was and what the price would be to fix it. We did not get a written estimate or contract.

I called him two days later (was traveling for work) and he said he was going tomorrow morning to fix the leak (love how he assumed he were picking him). I asked him to hold off as I wanted to talk to my husband that evening, but that I would call him in the morning.

Next morning I called him around 9am and left a voicemail asking him to hold off as we were having one more person that our insurance agent recommended come and take a look two days later.

Fast forward a few days (more travel for work) and I receive a voicemail from him saying he was already on the roof at 8am the morning I called and didn't get my voicemail asking him to hold off. He apparently already fixed it.

No written agreement, no signature, nothing! UUhhg!!!

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This is easy, you didn't hire him, you don't pay him. If he takes you to court for non payment the entire onus is on him to prove you reneged on a contract, what contract?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 5:57PM
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exactly what SC said. His problem not yours.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 8:15PM
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Excellant advice--I'd follow it

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 9:14AM
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That's insane, and I agree with the others that what he did was bizarre and definitely his problem... but was it fixed to your satisfaction? Also, how did he react when you confronted him about fixing something before getting approval and agreement from you? If he was apologetic, and it seemed like an honest (albeit strange) mistake, then I would try to negotiate out a price that makes sense. Was his original estimate high? Sometimes I hear weird things like this and wonder if it is some kind of ploy, lol, but it is so strange.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 1:32PM
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It is unfortunate that the contractor did the work without a contract, which should protect you both. If you want to be fair about it, why not have another opinion on the work done, and discuss with the contractor why did he commence work without a contract? If the work done is acceptable, and reason why he didn't wait for a signed contract with you is also acceptable, pay him a fair price for the work he did. Times are hard, maybe he just got a little too ambitious in order to feed his family. Do what feels best for you.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 11:40PM
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would like some thoughts from someone who fixes houses?
if not..just ignore..

first. there are several reasons he did what he did.
was it small? how far/long was his travel time(fuel cost).
easy to fix on one trip instead of 3? you might like to have bids from 3 places. but you waste time for 2 contractors..period. do you like having your time wasted.
remember everyone you ask for a bid could be somewhere else making money. unless they charge for the bids.

yes I fix houses for a living..for the past decade..

it was a gamble on his part. period. I recently had a job fixing a roof..
if I had had shingles when I went to look at the job I would have fixed then..and taken the gamble they would pay..why??45minutes of time vs 2hrs to go back..
for a job that takes 30minutes??hum ..lets see pay by hour of work not benefits(NONE)..

think like a business owner..
done in one trip..on to the next job..
instead of phone calls and several trips for a 30minute fix..hum??

you have to others have suggested..
is it fixed? are you happy with the work? and the price? pay him..maybe not the full amount, but why not?? paper work and more time on his part..( this is time for him away from his family and/or other jobs)
does he warranty the work? if you don't pay, don't call'll never hear back from him again.. and forget trying to claim anything in don't have a if it leak in a BIG way and does thousands of $$ in're SOL..

yes the sword cuts both ways..


    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 7:51PM
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“So we were in the process of getting bids from 3 roofers (to fix a small leak).”

I’m going to vent in the other direction. You are getting three bids to fix a small leak???? If I were the roofers, I would have said thanks but no thanks. I may have even referred you to a competitor that I don’t like. The soft costs to drive to your home, get on the roof and give you a price will likely cost more than the repair itself is worth.

Roofers pay such high insurance rates because the work is dangerous. About 50 roofers a year die from falling and you want roofers to take on a risk like that just to give you a price for all small leak??

Just because people work in the trades doesn’t mean their time is any less valuable than yours. I would argue their time is even more valuable because they can only work during daylight hours and not in inclement weather. Asking people to run around just to give a bid for a small repair is highly inconsiderate IMO.

If this roofer takes you to court, the judge will likely require you to pay him. Not to mention the loss of time and aggravation on your part. Plus you will end up with the court dispute on your records going forward. More and more companies and institutions are looking at property owner’s lawsuit history before they do work or commit money.

The judge will likely ask if you needed the repair, the roofer will argue the misunderstanding and the judge will likely make you pay a reasonable bill. Verbal contracts are enforced in courts all the time. I could easily argue that you gave me a verbal contract. If the work was done, pay them a reasonable fee but discount it for their misunderstanding or inappropriate actions.

For the future, find a reputable company, check references and negotiate a price. If a company feels you are treating them with respect, they will do so in return. Most homeowner warranty disputes come into play when tradesmen are treated unfairly. The last thing they want to do is return to a property where they will just get beat up again.

For the record, I’m not a roofer and I hope this helps.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 2:44PM
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For dkenny,

If you are truly a business man and have factored in all of your costs then you know that there is no such thing as a free quote. Those costs must be factored into your prices, as simple as that. I know that we can't charge more than the market will bear but you better know the cost of doing business, your business.

I have told salesmen not to sell a job on many occasions. He might be willing to drive 100 miles to give a free quote, but that quote sure isn't free for me after he puts in his expense statement and gets his cheque. And if I have to send a crew 100 miles one way I'm sure his quote doesn't take into consideration my added expenses.

What if the guy fell off the roof to tack up those few shingles?

You might consider that you may be charged with trespassing. What if some nearsighted neighbours thought you were breaking in?

Many insurance companies require 3 bids no matter how small you think the job is. Mr. or Mrs. John Doe has no idea many times of what a big job is or what a small job is. I know my 86 year old mother that has never been on a roof knows.

Come on man, you want to be a business person or a roofer, which one?

When you have been " fixing homes" for 30 years you will have changed your tune.

This post was edited by SouthernCanuck on Sat, Apr 6, 13 at 22:55

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 10:51PM
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No judge has any authority to enforce any contract that never existed, There isn't even a verbal contract here, which is very difficult to enforce under any circumstances and they certainly are not enforced all the time even in jurisdictions where verbal contracts are enforceable. There must be a meeting of the minds, contract law 101.

You opinion is appreciated, but you are way off here. Having said that getting legal or medical advice on the internet is always what it's worth, nada.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 11:03PM
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SouthernCanuck, since you opened this door, I’ll play.

WOW, I’m so relieved to hear our courts only have contract disputes where there was a meeting of the minds and only what was taught in law school applies. Our courts don’t have cases where people lie, stretch the truth or hide the facts, do they? Judges only make decisions on the truth, right? By the way, last weekend I saw the Easter Bunny and he said to say hello.

The fact is our courts are full of BS lawsuits where lawyers are stuffing their pockets with their clients’ cash when their client should have avoided court in the first place. I’m giving zero legal advice; I’m telling someone how to avoid the need for legal advice.

I bet this roof repair was about $500.00. The roofer probably thought he was doing a good deed by fixing a simple shingle, a flat roof patch or a flashing problem.

I’ve been in the industry for 28 years, run my own businesses daily and handled contract issues on thousands of occasions and into the multimillions of dollars for single contracts. I’m very well versed on simple contracts, AIA contracts and insurance policies out the ying yang.

As for insurance companies requiring three bids, that’s not entirely accurate. The adjuster may tell you that to keep his/her job easy and limit costs, but their insurance policy doesn’t state that. I don’t know of any insurance policy where it states the policy holder must get three estimates. If you find one, post the information, I’d like to see it.

The insurance company is required to pay reasonable costs, period. That doesn’t mean the lowest price. Not trying to spar with anyone here, just stating the real world.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:32PM
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I can't say this is what happened but this has happened to me.I went to a job to estimate it. To see the extent of the damage I had to remove shingles and a piece of flashing. Would you rather I put the ripped shingles back or put 4 new ones in and tar the seam? I have seen someone est and just leave it open.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 8:53AM
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Oh C'mon, me and my husband are both contractors, and would NEVER do work on someone's residence unless there has been a "meeting of the minds". We do bids on small jobs all the time. It can be a hassle, but often leads to more work later (especially with realtors). We also would NEVER do "destructive investigation" without a thorough explanation to the homeowner about why it was necessary, and agreement about how the situation would be resolved. Anybody who would ramrod through work without an agreement, and expect to be paid, is an idiot. I would definitely report the incident to the realtor that referred him, any reputable realtor would want to know that. I can't even begin to imagine the brouhaha that would result if he did that to a house under contract negotiations. That said, if the works is deemed satisfactory, you might want to negotiate a VERY reasonable cost. (for karma's sake) The damage to his reputation with the realtor is going to cost him a lot more.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 12:43AM
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What kind of legitimate company jumps in and does work without any sort of agreement (I'm not sure that raven2001's scenario is the same issue - I would appreciate his scenario). I would assume that the roofer would want some sort of protection on his side too. Also, not knowing the roofer, a suspicious person could feel it's like those people who scam vulnerable people by doing working then demanding payment.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 10:11PM
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I did not send a bill. I called and explained what I found and what I did. I think part of an estimate is, when you leave you make sure what you have done does not lead to further damage. As a note the owner asked what he owed and I said if you are happy send what you think is fair. I don't know who he might have talked to but he sent very close to what I would have charged.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 8:45AM
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"What kind of legitimate company jumps in and does work without any sort of agreement?"

"What if the guy fell off the roof to tack up those few shingles?"


I don't want to have to explain to my insurance company that a perfect stranger felt I needed work done on my house and then fell and broke his back.

If somebody did work on my house without my permission, I'd be on the phone to the police dept.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 1:06PM
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Exactly, I wish the OP would get back and tell is what the outcome was.

Without nit picking with those that didn't agree with me I still think it's outrageous.

I wonder what Judge Judy would do with the roofer or anyone that agrees with their actions, wow I'd love to see that one!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 1:56AM
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"What kind of legitimate company jumps in and does work without any sort of agreement"

Likely the job was so small he did not understand it was 'out for bids.'

It is called a misunderstanding.

If he did a good job you might consider paying him the low bid as a gesture of good will.

After years of searching for away to drain his down slopping driveway to an under house garage my father finally found someone who knew what to do.

Connect the outside drain under the slab to a sump pit in the garage, ten pump the water out to the county storm drain.
The garage gets chilly, but since it has hydronic heat lines fr the (now finished) room above it never gets below freezing.

A had shake and a "How much & when can you start?" was all the 'contract' there was (ad yes, verbal contracts are valid, if hard to enforce).

They guy showed up a week later, did all the work (sister let him in the garage and basement) and left a bill in an envelope on the front door for the agreed on price.
The work was all very much first class.

My dad had to cal him about "how do I pay you?"

"Leave a check in an envelope in the inside the front storm door" was the reply.
Envelope taped on the inside of the lower metal panel on the door (out of sight from the street).
He still took a couple days to pick it up.

This is how small jobs are still done occasionally.
I have a couple customers that leave me a phone message to "Fix it" and were the house key is hidden.

I go look over ad check the problem.
Get supplies as needed.
"Fix it."
Leave a bill on the kitchen counter.
They mail me a check.

I only require ANY money up front from new customers on larger jobs (over $1,000).

I have never been stiffed.

I used to have a nice 'stable' of guys I could call on for various little projects.
For things that took just a few hours I would often give their name & number to one of my customers.
Call Bill at 555-1234, tell him I sent you, ask him how much he wants.
Many of these guys were retired from full time work in their fields.
If they saw the job was bigger than they wanted to deal with on their own, they would tell the sower they needed to talk it over with me.
I took it from their and earned some money subbing as much to Bill as he was comfortable with.
Often I worked as the second person on the job.
I might carry bricks for Bill (I have yet to meet an older brick mason that does not have e\terrible arthritis), get him supplies, do some manual labor, or do non-masonry parts of the job Bill was not comfortable with.

More often than not there was nothing bu a limited verbal agreement among all of us.

Or they could have called one of the larger 'remodeling/repair groups' in the area.
Paid for a 'sales call'.
Then a contract to be written.
Then someone to get the contract signed.
A scheduler.
Labor with far less experienced than Bill (VERY important on old house repairs). And finally ended up with all the 'i's dotted and 't's crossed and paid many times more for lower quality work.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 1:51PM
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""What kind of legitimate company jumps in and does work without any sort of agreement"

Likely the job was so small he did not understand it was 'out for bids.' It is called a misunderstanding."

Brickeye? Do you have a sign up in your yard telling any contractor who drives by, that they can come onto your property and fix whatever they think needs to be done? If not, why?!

The OP told this guy to HOLD OFF until further notice. What part of that did he 'misunderstand'?

If a contractor is unable to understand what the home owner wants before the job begins, then what can the home owner expect if things go wrong?

Since there is no contract, what remedy would there be for the home owner if the contractor hurt himself or screwed up the job?

Isn't this why we asked these people to get licenses and/or pull permits?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 12:04PM
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Food for thought to those who choose to fly by the seat of their pants when trusting unlicensed contractors:

The Top Ten Questions To Ask A Contractor Before You Invite Them To Your Home

"1-Are You Licensed?
What are the risks? Generally contractors without licenses don't have them for a reason, which is a huge red flag. Licensing requires passing written tests on codes and building practices, experience requirements and many other aspects that prove you are competent at what you are doing. If somebody isn't licensed there is probably a really bad reason why not.

2-Do You Carry General Liability Insurance?
Make sure the company you are considering carries general liability insurance. This is the insurance that protects your home from damage or negligence of the contractor, his employees or any sub-contractors he hires and brings on your property. A one million dollar policy is the standard of the industry. Also, remember that anyone can say they are insured, make them prove it with a copy of his insurance certificate, check the expiration dates, you can call the issuing authority and verify their insurance is in force.

What are the risks? If something goes wrong you have three choices, (1) to pay for the damages and repairs out of your own pocket. (2) to go after the contractor for the costs, which means suing him. Which of course is the where the real problem starts. If a contractor can't afford to carry insurance what are the chances that he has anything to sue him for? You can get a nice judgment of $50,000 against him, but how do you collect it from a guy that does everything illegally anyways and doesn't have anything of value? (3) you will have to ask your homeowners policy to cover it. There is no guarantee of course that they will cover the loss. Insurance companies do their best to protect themselves by having verbiage in their contract with you that might require you to only hire licensed contractors and prove the work has been properly permitted. Contractors without insurance usually don't follow many of the other rules that insurance companies usually require either."

A link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 12:09PM
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"Do you have a sign up in your yard telling any contractor who drives by, that they can come onto your property and fix whatever they think needs to be done? If not, why?!

The OP told this guy to HOLD OFF until further notice. What part of that did he 'misunderstand'? "

Since we are only hearing one side of the story ti would appear that the INVITED 'bidder' did not understand.

Or does everything in your world go perfectly?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 1:36PM
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"Since we are only hearing one side of the story ti would appear that the INVITED 'bidder' did not understand.

Or does everything in your world go perfectly?"

Invited Bidder is just that. A BIDDER. Not go ahead and do the work BEFORE I give you permission.

Do you normally tell your customers what you are going to do before they tell you what they want?

Good communication makes for a more perfect world. ;)

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 8:17PM
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