Electrician problem

karle13March 5, 2014

Not sure where to post this, we hired a electrician to wire our whole house, we gutted a house, he gave us a contract and it's been 5 months since we started this project! We paid him the full amount already and now there are a few things left, He gave us another bill!! We are flabbergasted !! The first bill was around 17 thousand and now he gives us another bill for 15 thousand!he said he that there were things he did that were not in the first contract that and that all the lights and boxes and such came to way more then he estimated! My question is , is there a way to work it out without going to the courts! Also he took out the electrical permit and needs to sign off! If need be can we hire another electrician to finish the work and sign off! We are not paying him that much money!!

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This probably isn't the right place (as there's no actual electrical questions) but...

First: It stinks that you and your contractor are in this situation. I can't say who's right and who's wrong, but it may be a little of both. The key is in the contract (and its interpretation). If the contract is written well, it'll spell out exactly what is going to be done (within reason), when stages will be completed, and how much is due at each stage. Estimation errors are not the problem of the homeowner unless the contractor includes something in the contract accounting for changes in materials pricing, etc. At the same time, changes in scope are not the fault of the contractor and they should be able to recoup extra costs if the work being done doesn't match the original estimate/contract. Again, there should be a contract provision explaining how to come to additional payments in the case of scope creep.

With respect to your permit, check with your office, but you may not have to have the contractor agree to have the final inspection done. Talk to them and explain the situation. You might be able to get an extra "preliminary" inspection out of it if you play your cards well. If the work (from a code perspective) is complete, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to have them close out the permit and let you deal with your contractor's payment claims separately. At the same time, a failed inspection due to things you KNOW are not complete may give you leverage with the contractor to complete the work.

It's a given that you will need receipts and documentation. Take pictures and notes. Above all, be professional and reasonable and expect the same of the other party and you're more likely to have an equitable resolution.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 8:36AM
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I don't understand the point of entering into a contract if he is going to come back on you for more money. If it is due to changes after the contract was written, you should have gotten another price for the extras so you wouldn't have sticker shock at the additional expense. FYI, change orders do cost more than original work. It just requires more time, material and effort to do plan B when everything was estimated, planned and engineered to do plan A to begin with.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 4:11PM
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@karle13: "he gave us a contract and it's been 5 months since we started this project! We paid him the full amount already and now there are a few things left, "

You need to go to a lawyer, and have him read the contract.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 2:01PM
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Two questions:

- WHY IN THE WORLD did you pay the full amount before the job was done??

- Did you approve all the changes that almost doubled the contract price?

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 7:47AM
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We paid in increments over the 5 months! What we ended up doing is contacting the Maryland home builders association. We sent them the first contract and the second bill, they are going to investigate! They will contact the electrician and request all his receipts! They have our house size, 3000 sq feet and will let us know what they think! We knew nothing of more charges, he said he told our general contractor , but he should of contacted us!! We are paying the bill! There is no way he put 8 thousand dollars worth of lighting fixtures in this house. We counted 63 cans that he bought and the light bulbs and switch plates,I bought all the fixtures! So we now will just wait until we hear from the board!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 3:31PM
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63 cans provided, installed and wired at $120 each is $7560.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 8:38PM
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Where in the world do u come up with 120 for one recessed light? We priced them at 25$ including the bulb! He already included the wiring in the price and gave us a 2500.00 allowance for those lights!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 9:44AM
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There is a mark up on materials if you want them for 25 you need to buy them yourself 120-150 a can is average I know some companies charge 175. Was 63 cans included in the original bid cause that is alot of recess lights for an extra usually there would only be a few here and there for extras 63 would mean they were missed all together. Find out what he charges per fixture you may have exceded the 2500 allowance 8000 is prob about right for that many recess cans

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 10:57AM
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A cost of $120 per recessed light furnished and installed is reasonable. Especially if they were installed old work. Clearly there was a major lack of communication here.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 10:58AM
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Oh yeah I didn't even think of that if its old work that price is extremely reasonable and I agree bad communication. If there is a general on the job it is his job to communicate with the customer not the sub contractors job that is why he is there. When you hire a general to run a project you need to step back and let them do there job and any communication to the subs should go through him. But the general should have defiantly told you what was going on especially since it was so much maybe you should be asking him why he didn't inform you of the extras. Whenever I do work I always go through the general. There can only be one chief on the job

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 11:39AM
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Your story is upsetting!! And makes me angry. Two men at $100 total per hour would have spent 150 extra hours.
If it's all labor then he was roughly 4 weeks longer on the job, shouldn't you have been notified?

$2500 should have covered the cans! If he is so stupid that he didn't count the cans right, then that's his fault.
The boat picture got it right. A low bid and then they RIP YOU OFF on change orders. But those change orders should have been approved by you!

For anyone wanting to save money on recessed lights, if you are mildly handy, do the following like I did.
Cut the holes, run the wire (easy because I opened the softit to see where I could run them [used a mirror to see down the joists]). Bought the cans and baffles. So that it was safely completed, I called an electrician. Two guys came out (cost $100/ hour) and hooked up all 7 cans. The minimum time charge was 1 hour; they finished in 40 minutes so I asked them to go out to the panel and had them check it and tighten everything. Recessed lights can be reasonable if they charge by the hour.
Total cost for labor ..$100.

This post was edited by bugbite on Tue, Mar 11, 14 at 11:51

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 3:59PM
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There was only 13 extra cans that were not included in the original contract. And the walls were open. We are willing to pay that extra 150 per light, but not almost 16 thousand ! I agree the communication was poor!!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 7:54AM
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Ok 13000 you got beat if I made that kind of money on recess lights I'd work 1 month a year. The whole project should have been under 20000

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 8:26AM
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