Am I Stuck Paying a scamming Contractor

34 Replies

I have a beach property which needed some fascia wood to be replaced and also the roof over the porch along with a few other minor items. The porch is about 18' by 10'. I was referred a contractor so I was definitely not as careful as I should have been. The contractor stated he does not quote jobs in total because he does not know what may come up once they get into the job. He did say he charges $40 per man hour, which I ok'd. On day 1 there were 3 guys on site, but not particularly productive. They got some work done, but no where near what I thought should be done. On day 2, my wife and I went out and when we got back, there was now 6 people on site, 2 appeared to be working and the other 4 were either sitting around or milling about. So I talked to the on site guy regarding his thoughts on finishing after day 2, but he said they would need to come back on Monday to finish. Later, I received a text from the owner saying his guys would not be able to come back and finish the job as they were on another very important job. But, he calculated 76 man hours of work times the $40 for basically replacing fascia and roofing 180' sq ft of porch roof. There is other work left not completed, such as some siding left off the house, and painting not completed.

My question is, am I screwed because I never received an overall estimate? He can simply say he had guys on site and that was the agreed upon rate, whether or not they were actually working. And, if this were going to court, would they consider the overall work done and reasonable compensation for work completed (even though some of the work was lefft not finished) or would they side with the contractor and say the agreed upon rate was $40 and his men were on site?

Uggh. How much is he owed at this point? How much have you paid? Maybe just pay him what is owed and fire him. Then find someone else (or him) to do the rest for a fixed amount.

Originally posted by @Max T. :

Uggh. How much is he owed at this point? How much have you paid? Maybe just pay him what is owed and fire him. Then find someone else (or him) to do the rest for a fixed amount.

i paid him $3,350 plus $500 for supplies to roof 180 sq ft. i paid him that and then fired him.  there is soffit work and siding which i will do myself.

 

Originally posted by @Mark Fries :

@Curtis Mears

Doesnt seem that expensive honestly...

they had 6 people here with 2 working on the roof.  i asked what the other 4 were doing for 8 hours,  and i quote, "they were picking up singles". apparently more shingles on this roof than i have ever seen. 

 

That is 10 maybe 15 hours of work for ONE man. Should have paid about $750- $1000 max. I would never pay byn the hour unless you really trust the contractor and it is for truly hard to estimate jobs. |This job is not hard to estimate.

Originally posted by @Caleb Heimsoth :

@Curtis Mears always get a quote before doing something of that size. 3000 dollars for that amount of roof sounds very expensive to me

Yes, lesson learned. I have a contractor near my other properties who does not give me written quotes, but he always comes in under/near my projections and gives detailed bills in the end (and never a line item for shingles pick up charge). This guy worked the scam and I fell for it.

 

I wouldn't pay him. He didn't complete the job. Are there any contracts or paperwork? Contractors try to scare investors into putting liens on properties or a court case. Your contractor sounds too lazy to do either. There are also ways around that if you plan on selling the property sometime soon. 

Originally posted by @Bill Buzzell :

That is 10 maybe 15 hours of work for ONE man. Should have paid about $750- $1000 max. I would never pay byn the hour unless you really trust the contractor and it is for truly hard to estimate jobs. |This job is not hard to estimate.

Yes, I agree. I was going to do it myself, but on an island it is more difficult to get supplies (part of higher cost). I actually started the job, but then decided against it as I would rather not work on vacation. 

 

Originally posted by @Caleb Heimsoth :

@Curtis Mears always get a quote before doing something of that size. 3000 dollars for that amount of roof sounds very expensive to me

 I paid about double that for my house-1600 sq ft on one level, double garage and garden shed. @Curtis Mears Even if you are on an island, the premium shouldn't be that high.

Originally posted by @Theresa Harris :
Originally posted by @Caleb Heimsoth:

@Curtis Mears always get a quote before doing something of that size. 3000 dollars for that amount of roof sounds very expensive to me

 I paid about double that for my house-1600 sq ft on one level, double garage and garden shed. @Curtis Mears Even if you are on an island, the premium shouldn't be that high.

It’s a 180 square feet not 1800.   

@Curtis Mears I would pay him, chalk it up to a learning experience and move on. Be sure to get a lien waiver - sounds like he is the kind of guy you cannot trust in any way. Having a variable for unknown contingencies is normal but in the future have a detailed agreement specifying a firm bid, what is included, and the hourly rate for what is not included in the event rot or other issues are uncovered.

@Curtis Mears

I have had contractors do work for me on a particular task but I don’t leave it open ended. It’s an hourly rate per man with an amount of hours not to be exceeded to complete the work. If you leave it open ended you are handing them a blank check book, with no motivation to be efficient and productive with the least amount of man hours to get the work done.

If the contractor cannot give you a fixed price on the type of work they regularly do with some unit charges for “extra” like replacement of rotten roof decking then he isn’t experienced.

When you aren’t on the job supervising hourly guys, they do everything but actual work.

If he didn’t finish the job I would not pay him and let him know if he wants to get paid anything, your renegotiating the arrangement because you thought is it was open ended. Hahaha

@Curtis Mears

Not to be taken as legal advice; I’d start with, do you have a contract?

Are they licensed and insured contractors?

If no to both, not saying it’s right, but likely it would be hard to enforce payment.

If you do due diligence and come up with production rate and get some back up from licensed contractors for the same work, you will be able to determine what’s fair and reasonable.

It would be recommended to make good faith payment of what’s fair and reasonable, then dispute the rest.

Originally posted by @Caleb Heimsoth :
Originally posted by @Theresa Harris:
Originally posted by @Caleb Heimsoth:

@Curtis Mears always get a quote before doing something of that size. 3000 dollars for that amount of roof sounds very expensive to me

 I paid about double that for my house-1600 sq ft on one level, double garage and garden shed. @Curtis Mears Even if you are on an island, the premium shouldn't be that high.

It’s a 180 square feet not 1800.   

That was part of my point.  I paid twice that and got more than 10x the space done on multiple structures. 

@Curtis Mears . I’m kinda surprised the contractor could find 6 guys to show up to work.

When I do work for investors I always give them a fixed price, it might require a little more time on my part to do some investigation but that’s what I get paid to do.

Get multiple quotes and get it in writing.  This guy knew from the get go he could screw you out of a lot of money.  Any decent contractor should be able to give you some type of estimate for costs.  Like when I had my roof quoted they gave me a price and said at most 500 bucks over that for anything extra like plywood.

Four guys picking up shingles is insane. But really not much to. Roofs should always be quoted firm and then add extras for decking repair etc. something like $350 per square then $700 for facia and decking and rafter tails.

Good luck. Hard lesson.

Ouch. Everything you needed done is 3, maybe 4 days for 2 guys. I wouldn't have paid him that much and told him to take me to court for the rest but lesson learned. Good luck with the rest of the project. I guess there is a shortage of competent contractors down there, maybe I should move and enjoy the nicer weather haha 

Originally posted by @Frank Geiger :

I wouldn't pay him. He didn't complete the job. Are there any contracts or paperwork? Contractors try to scare investors into putting liens on properties or a court case. Your contractor sounds too lazy to do either. There are also ways around that if you plan on selling the property sometime soon. 

In this case, it doesn't sound like a job was ever established to be completed.... Just work and and hourly rate. 

Not that I agree with the contractor but it'd likely be pretty easy to say the guys were doing something and that the rate was already agreed upon. 

 

Thanks for all the comments. This one will have to go down as a learning experience. I did end up paying him the amount requested as I did not have a contract to fall back on. The other issue was I was leaving to go out of town that day and did not want to risk the chance of them coming and removing the work and leaving my property exposed to the elements as I was not planning on going back for a month or so. Looks like now I will make an unexpected trip back to finish the work they left. Live and learn