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Resolving Financial Issues with Remodeling Contractor

by Mike Dodd, Home Remodeling Expert
March 06, 2015

Question: I hired a contractor to make some simple changes to my house. The bill he gave me is shocking and not in-sync with what we had discussed beforehand. What should I do?

Answer: There is a lot of good information on the web with respect to the types of questions to ask when contemplating hiring a professional contractor. A clearly written proposal should define and outline the financial parameters of any engagement, including the total price and payment terms. A contract should also spell out what happens when the scope of work deviates from what was originally agreed upon. That is typically referred to in the industry as a "change order". If those documents are in place in this particular instance, then you have a legally binding roadmap to serve as a basis for any difference in interpretation. The difficulty comes if those documents are not (or have not been) evident.

You can always resort to a legal resolution by engaging an attorney to represent your interests, but that is assuming that the relationship has become contentious and there is no other recourse. Suggesting a route of mediation might be a potential solution where an impartial mediator could help to bring the matter to resolution, but both parties must agree to abide by the mediator's conclusion, but that doesn't always happen. Arbitration is another form of resolution where both parties must agree, before a decision is rendered, to abide by the arbitrator's findings.  

At the end of the day, talking through the particulars of the circumstance may be all that it takes. That would certainly be the first option to pursue. If the contractor didn't perform his "due diligence" by keeping the homeowner informed of any changes in the scope of the work as it progressed, then he probably shouldn't be entitled to bill for the services.

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Mike Dodd is the founder and President of Lifewise Renovations, that combines home remodeling project management with the expertise of health care professionals, to make it possible live safely and comfortably at home regardless of age or physical ability. As a member of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Mike holds the Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS) designation.

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