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Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

Posted by cansari (My Page) on
Thu, Apr 8, 10 at 18:16

In connection with a full bath remodel, as part of my agreement with the GC, the GC agreed to do "all electrical wiring and labor (excluding trim and fixtures)" for the project. After the job started, I noticed and pointed out to the electrician (a subcontractor) that one of the circuits was overloaded (circuit was pulling 17 amps on a 20 amp circuit, mostly from a 15 amp heating floor system that was part of the project), and his suggestion was to run a new "home run" circuit from the breaker box (a long run) - I told him I agreed with that approach. The electrician asked the GC for extra money for this work after it was done, and the GC declined and told the electrian to ask me since I am the one that requested the work. I responded that I'm not responsible since adding the circuit was a necessary part of the project (since the circuit was overloaded) and not an optional change order, and my contract with the GC includes all wiring and labor for the project. Does it appear from these facts that I am correct?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

You should have pointed out the overload to the GC first. By entering into a verbal agreement with the electrician to change the wiring, I believe this is now between you and the electrician. BTW, how do you know it's drawing 17A and was overloaded? If you have the expertise and equipment to utilize an Amprobe or other clamp-on current measuring device, you surely knew this was a problem up front.


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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

You instructed the sub to perform additional work, making you the one that asked for a change and solely responsible for the cost.

If you had told the GC that the circuit appeared overloaded and he knew the load of the heater to supply to the electrician it would be either the electrician's or GC's responsibility for the oversight.

If the GC was not fully aware of the heater and load it would come back to you again.

The only thing you can do at this point is bargain for no GC markup on the extra work you ordered.


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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

I don't agree with bigbird or brickeye.

The floor heating wire materials and instructions state 15 amps, and the other item (a heated towel rack) says 2 amps (a relative that is an electrical engineer actually noticed it). Both of these items were furnished to the GC prior to entering into the contract with the GC and were identified in the contract(but I of course did not point the loads out to them prior to commencement of work and they never asked me for load info). I pointed out the issue to the sub b/c the GC was not there at the time, and the sub told me he would talk to the GC (but apparently he never did) and take care of it. Im my opinion, the electrican should have known this (I shouldn't of had to notify him of his error).

Again, "all wiring and labor" should include running a new circuit if necessary for the scope of work (since the circuit was overloaded and no other circuit was available, a new circuit was necessary). If not, "all" does not really mean "all", does it?


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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

Did you actually measure the current draw, or are you going by something else? The magic 80% rating of 16A continuous is very close to your 17A number.


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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

I agree with bigbird and brickeye as well. You are in contract with the GC, not the sub,if he wasnt there at the moment a simple phone call would have solved it for you. You and the sub agreed on an additional circuit, and GC was left out on this one. You are asking for an opinion from this forum, you dont necessarily have to agree.


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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

Tough call. The sub is a worker for the GC. I believe the GC should have known of the current draw situation. They are obligated to provide circuits that are up to code. "All wiring and labor" means ALL. Also keep in mind responses here are from GC people as well. I would negotiate. How much are you talking about?


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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

Its about $350. I contacted the manufactuers to confirm the draw amounts. Regardless of whether that is more than I have the ability to pay, I have a real problem with being asked to pay to fix a problem that the GC/Sub created and that they were lucky enough that I caught it before the studs were covered with tile and sheetrock, especially since my fixed price already contract with the GC already includes the work I being asked to pay for. They should thank me and apologize for their mistake (whether intentional or negligent)- not bill me.


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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

You can always fall back on the trick GC's like to use, and ask them if they have a signed change order for the "extra work". Tell them the judge will want to see it when they try to collect.


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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

So you are saying you supplied all the information in writing about the heater to the GC before he set the price?


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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

brickeyee, I had the heater and physically showed it to him. I also gave him an e-mail from the Seller of the heater which states as follows:

"You start the WarmWire at the thermostat(power) location you choose (not shown on your drawing). I calculate 149 SF sound correct to you ? At 2.5" spacing, that would require 15 amps @ 120v . I have a 150 SF kit this includes 2 spools both start at the T-stat...."

I don't think he really considered the load issue or whether or how many circuits would need to be added for the project when he gave me his price.

my fixed fee contract specifically includes the installation of the heating system, and well as "All wiring and labor" for the entire project.

NEW ISSUE: I JUST LEARNED THAT ALTHOUGH THE HEATING WIRE REQUIRES A GFCI BREAKER, ONLY A REGULAR BREAKER WAS INSTALLED AND THAT I WOULD NEED TO PURCHASE A GFCI BREAKER AT MY EXPENSE. I WOULD THINK THAT THE GFCI BREAKER WOULD ALSO BE INCLUDED WITHIN "ALL WIRING AND LABOR" AND NOT CONSIDERED A "TRIM OR FIXTURE" (I bought the light fixtures, receptables, light switches, exhaust fans and wall plates), BUT I THINK THIS ISSUE IS MORE AMBIGUOUS - ANY THOUGHTS ON THIS?


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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

What did the inspector say about the breaker?


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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

Instead of dragging this out ad infinitum, get a lawyer's recommendation. What we say here is of no consequence. You can't quote what so-and-so said on the Internet.


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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

The advice you get here comes with a double your money back guarantee. Or you can pay a lawyer $350 and he will send a letter to the electrician and or GC and tell them to pound sand. If you are going to do that just pay the electrician and he will quit talking trash about you.


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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

The electrician(sub)is the one that should supply the GFCI breaker, If you havent paid him yet, tell him your going to deduct it from what his owed plus the mark-up cost that they use.


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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

cansari, your GC is a complete hack and crook.

For electric heat this big (15A) a dedicated 20A circuit is a CODE REQUIREMENT.
Also, if a GFI breaker is required by the manufacturer this is also a CODE REQUIREMENT.

Only a fool and hack electrician would put 15A worth of electric heat on an existing circuit!

NEITHER is your responsibility, NOR it is an "extra".
Both would fall under "All wiring and labor" for the project.


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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

I assume for whatever reason that the project was neither permitted or inspected. The protection that was omitted was your own.


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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

If what you say here is 100% true and accurate the GC screwed up, and then the electrician screwed up.

How much time and effort is the money worth?

You might start registering complaints against both the GC and the electrician with the AHJ.


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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

If the work is done and you haven't paid for it, I'd just ignore the request for extra money. Let's face it - the new circuit cost $20 in copper and an hour or two of the electrician's time. This is not worth it for either party to get a lawyer, place a lien or go to court over.

Now - with the same reasons - pay the $30 and get a GFCI breaker and put it in. You can't expect the electrician to do that when you aren't paying him for the extra circuit.

I do think in my area, that the heated tile require a dedicated circuit by code. So their plan was a code violation - I think you could remind them both in a professionally written letter - explaining why you won't pay their bill. I doubt they'd risk a court battle where their plan involved a code violation.

I might throw in nice polite threats about complaints to licensing boards and Angie's list. Also, in my area, they could get shut down doing an unpermitted job.


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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

I appreciate all the input. I actually have never been concerned from a legal perspective (I know that neither the GC nor the sub has a valid legal claim). Instead, my concern has been to do the right thing and be fair. I was concerned that I might not be looking at this issue objectively and telling them to pound sand might not be "fair". After more reflection, I think I am going to go with my gut reaction and tell them (politely) to do exactly that.


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RE: Dispute Over Payment for Electrical Work

Cansari, I have to agree with you 100%. Before you have a GFCI breaker installed, look at the T-stat you had installed. Some of them now have GFCI protection built into them.


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