Can a builder legally make an invoice for $40 over the bid estimate without discussing it with the homeowner?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can a builder legally make an invoice for $40 over the bid estimate without discussing it with the homeowner?

I hired a contractor for a small project. His bid was 525. He finally completed the job after several return trips to mud and tape better. He became quite angry on a previous job he had been kind and respectful. Then sent me an invoice of $875, $40 higher than his bid. When I asked him about this, he just says this was for the labor and supplies I supplied all the hardware. And, today, I sent him another email asking him what his original bid was for and told him that he did not tell me that the final invoice would be so high, and asked him to negotiate. Do I have legal grounds to only pay the bid amount?

Asked on April 3, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If it was 40% over, then it is very unlikely that the overage would be seen as reasonable: the contractor would be less likely to recover it if he sued you for it, or if you sued him to get the money back, you'd have a reasonable basis for winning--a court could easily see a discrepancy that large as being evidence of fraud (that is, that the contractor deliberately misstated or lied about costs to get you to sign up with him). While no case is ever certain--don't believe any lawyer who tells you that you are guaranteed to win--a 40% difference would support you taking action.

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