Can a contractor charge OP on work not done?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can a contractor charge OP on work not done?

We employed a contractor who gave us an initial estimate to do repairs on our home after a fire. They didn’t do half the work, yet are trying to get us to pay overhead and profit on the whole project. Shouldn’t we only have to pay for overhead and profit on work completed and not the repairs that were not done? They are refunding the money for work not don, but not the overhead and profit.

Asked on May 23, 2019 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You are correct: they should only be able to get their overhead and profit on that portion of the work which was done; they have no legal right to profit for things they did not do under any legal theory (e.g. under contract law, since they breached by not completing the work, and cannot enforce payment for their breach; for unjust enrichment, since you were "enriched" and do not have to pay for receiving a benefit if the work was not done; etc.). The only way they should be legally entitled to the OP for the not-done work would be if the contract plainly stated they get a certain amount of OP regardless of how much was completed, since in that case, you agreed to pay them no matter what. If they won't refund money to which they are not entilted, you could sue them for it  (if the amount at stake is less the the limit for small claims court, suing in small claims, as your own attonrey or "pro se," is a fast, cost effective option).

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