What are my rights if a contractor is attempting to charge me extra for materials that were included in the contract price?

I’m having a problem with a contractor that I hired for the renovation of my apartment. The construction started in the beginning of 06/10. Halfway through the renovation, on 07/29/10, the contractor said that the cost of some materials such as marble for the wall and the floor of the bathroom are not included in the contract and demanded that i pay him more. However, the contract clearly states “[The contractor] provides all materials, labor, and equipment to perform renovation in apartment,” “Marble tiles will be used for the floor and the walls up to the ceiling,”.

Asked on July 29, 2010 under Real Estate Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Contracts are enforceable and binding on both parties. If the contract requires the contract to provide these materials at his cost, he must do so--you can take him to court  if necessary on it. If he miscalculated and is losing money on the work, that's his problem, not yours.

Before speaking with an attorney (if you can't resolve this with the contractor), check the contract again: does it say the contractor will *pay* for the materials or only that he will "provide" them. If the latter, then the contract may be ambiguous--it's possible that it would allow for the contractor to arrange for and pick up the materials, but then charge you for them at his cost. It could in that case be that you are each acting in good faith according to what you think a badly drawn contract specifies. Therefore, before taking the next step, look at the contract again; you can bring it to an attorney to help understand it or negotiate it, but it's a good idea to first consider how hard you're willing to push if it's not entirely or unambiguously in your favor.

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