Does the homeowner have to pay for work completed without estimate?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Does the homeowner have to pay for work completed without estimate?

Completed 2 dedicated circuits with verbal agreement then when presented with cost of installation homeowner said was to expensive amd refused to pay.

Asked on July 2, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If they authorized you to begin work without waiting for an estimate, then yes--they are obligated to pay. Subject to the implicit requirement that your bill/invoice be "reasonable"--the courts tend to hesitate to enforce unfair or unreasonable charges, unless the other party clearly agreed to it in writing--if you were told to go ahead without the homoewner requesting an estimate, the homeowner essentially authorized you to do the work regardless of the cost; the agreement, even if only implicit, between the two of you was that they would pay any not unreasonable charge for the work. So if they will not pay you, you could sue them for the money; you would sue not just for "breach of contract," or violation of the agreement, even if only oral (that's the correct term; not "verbal") or implicit in regards to the work, but also based on "unjust enrichment": the law does not let them ask you to do work, then get the benefit of your work without paying (doing so is "unjust").

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