Contractor bill dispute

2 Replies

I hired a handyman/contractor to fix some drywall for me in a master bath that I am fixing up as a rental. We had a fixed price of $1,300 for this portion of the work.

While he was doing the drywall repairs, he said he would do some other small jobs at $50/hr, which I agreed to. I had him do a number of smaller jobs like hanging a light, installing a sink/disposal and handful of other small plumbing items. There was another drywall repair above a shower that did some some additional time.

I should have gotten a fixed price for the projects but unfortunately I didn’t. I just received a finally invoice for just over $7,000.

Based on how long projects typically take and even putting in a large buffer, I was estimating $4,000 would be on the very high end.

I’ve spoken to the contractor about how I believe this is extremely high and he just said things take time to complete. I’ve asked him for a break down of the project cost but he cannot provide.

Just curious how you would handle as I believe I’m being taken advantage of.


It's a tough call. I've made the same mistake myself many years ago. You have a good bid for a particular job, it's at a reasonable price, and the contractor seems honest. Why not tack a few things onto the list while he's there? It almost always results in a bill that is jacked through the roof and I no longer allow it. It's happened with electricians, constructions crews, cleaners, painters, etc. If you're going to hire them for a job, settle on a price up front rather than leave it open.

I would look at each job, determine how much time it should have taken, and tell him what you'll pay him. If he rejects that and wants to argue further, hire another contractor at an hourly rate and ask them to bid the exact same work to see what they believe is fair for time/price. Then go back and make the contractor a final offer with a written bid to back you up.

The fact that he won't provide you a break-down supports your questioning. I would not pay it outright. I would try to negotiate something reasonable. If he refuses to be reasonable, you can just pay him what you think it's worth and put the onus on him to take you to court and prove his case in front of a judge. 

Be sure to document everything, including the finished work with pictures.

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