What to do if I have a simple contract with a contractor for a specific work for a set price and he’s finished the job but billed for $1,700 more than the contract price?

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What to do if I have a simple contract with a contractor for a specific work for a set price and he’s finished the job but billed for $1,700 more than the contract price?

He says that there was more work than he originally expected. I did not sign any change orders. How do I settle this?

Asked on October 22, 2012 under Business Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A contract is a contract: the contractor may not charge you more than the contract price unless the contract specifically provided authority to do so (for example: it said he can charge for additional labor or materials, over and above what was initially specified) or you agreed to amend or change it (e.g. change orders). You an refuse to pay, but understand that the will likely take legal action against you: sue you, attempt to put a contractor's lien on your home, etc. You would likely, from what you write, prevail in court if he has no contractual authority for the additional charge, but would have to deal with the legal action, which itself will have some costs. You may therefore wish to see if you can negotiate some settlement that you and he could each live with, if you believe that there is at least some merit to his position (e.g that it did cost him more or take more time than anticipated).


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