If a skilled laborer requests more money than his estimate, am I responsible for paying the additional charges?

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If a skilled laborer requests more money than his estimate, am I responsible for paying the additional charges?

I hired a handyman to renovate a small bathroom in my house. We agreed upon a $2000 price for the labor and I would purchase all of the materials for the project. The renovation took place over the course of a 1 month period. The laborer finished his work yesterday. I have already paid him the $2000 which we agreed upon before beginning the project. Today, he requested an additional $2,700 for hours spent working on the renovation. At no prior point, did he mention that I would be expected to compensate him for an hourly wage. Am I responsible for the extra charges?

Asked on November 21, 2011 under Business Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If the "estimate" was an agreement or contract that he *would* do the work for this price--e.g. a "binding estimate"--and you accepted it, then the handyman will be bound by it and cannot seek more money.

If the estimate was not a binding estimate or an offer to do the work for $2,000, but was simply an "estimate"--or guess--as to what the work would likely  cost, without committing to doing it, then the handyman may be able to seek additional money, though only some reasonable increment over the estimate, which, after all, formed part of the basis for you engaging him to do the work. (e.g. seeking an extra $500 or even $700 in that case might be reasonable--not an extra $2,700, more than doubling the cost).

So the key issue is whether the estimate was a binding estimate or offer to do the work for a certain amount or  not.


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