Plumbers invoice doubled

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Plumbers invoice doubled

Plumbers verbal estimate estated ‘X’ amount per foot sewer line was replaced
and that included labor, material and equipment. However their need to bring a
bigger excavator and the repair of a telephone line they broke, increased the

Shouldnt the cost for that extra labor and equipment be covered by them and not
the client? What can I do if they seem unreasonable to reduce the total?

Asked on August 25, 2016 under Business Law, Oklahoma


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

An oral estimate is not generally binding: it is a "guestimate," or a best guess as to what it will cost, not a contract agreeing to do the work for no more than $X.
If you believe (and believe you can show) that they deliberately lied (i.e. intentionally low-balled) the cost to get you to hire them, that could be fraud, and fraud could give you grounds to not pay more than the estimate (though note: if they won't voluntarily reduce the cost, you'd have to sue, which has its own costs and is never guaranteed--even good cases loses sometimes, after all).
However, if there were any unforeseen circumstances or changes in instructions or conditions (e.g. the sewer line was buried deeper than they'd thought, or the soil was harder to dig through than anticipated, and they needed a larger excavator; or a telephone line was unexpectedly lying close to the sewer line and was damaged, then had to be fixed, etc.), that's not fraud--the change in conditions/circumstances mean they did not knowingly lie. Since in that case, it would not be fraud and the oral estimate ("oral" is the better term than "verbal") is not binding, you will have to pay the cost.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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