Contractor job/payment issues

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Iím building a house and installing a 500 ft gravel driveway Ė will try to keep this as concise as possible.

I decided to go with the lowest bidder (which I felt might be a mistake, but thought the overall savings would be worth it as the quotes I got were $15K, $10,500, & $7200) The third guy is a one man shop which is how I justified his savings.

Long story short he took more than a month to get started and I had to delay the foundation dig of my house 10 days. Part of his delay was his previous job where he had equipment failure, weather, etc - the rental place ended up seizing their equipment back and he says heís in a lawsuit, etc. †Because of this they overdrew his account and locked it up so he didnít have cash, etc. (He also mentioned a couple of days ago heís in a lawsuit with the owner of that property, but Iím not certain.)† In a panic we had to get started because the homebuilder was going to delay my dig for at least another month if the drive wasnít complete.† (I called all the other driveway contractors I could find but none could squeeze me in so I actually was planning on trying to do it myself, when my guy showed up last minute.)†

Because of his financial situation and my timeline we verbally agreed for me to pay for the rock, rent the equipment, etc.† Originally he had me pay 50% down to buy the rock up front.† He told me he budgeted $4500 for the rock and the rest was labor/equipment. FWIW I put the $3600 deposit on my AMEX SPG.† Because of the bad weather it took him about 8 days to do the driveway (I estimate he spent 35-40 hours on the job as most days were only a couple of hours).

The original quote was $7200, but I ended up spending $11,350.† $1,250 for equipment/fuel (he might could have got this for $1000 since he wouldnít have had delivery charges), $6,500 for rock and the $3600 deposit.

Iím not sure I want to use him for utilities as he was kind of difficult to deal with, but he said he was going to discount that trenching to make up for the overpayment on the driveway .† During the heat of all the issues he had sent a text that I wouldnít owe him any money and he would do my trenching without me paying him anymore (the original trench quote is for $2500 for labor/machine so not a whole lot to cut).† Now heís acting like he never said that and isnít throwing out any discount numbers (and currently isn't willing to refund anything that I've paid so far).† My 60 days with the original AMEX charge is up in about 20 days, but Iím not sure I even have anything with grounds to dispute.† Overall I feel like he did an ok job considering the conditions (but his delays are what got us into the mess) He didnít follow a lot of our requests like where we asked him to fill in some low spots (supposed to be 8 inches deep and he sections that were 12-14 inches deep), etc and didnít finish cleaning up the sides of the road (contract said we would have finish grading, but now heís saying its best to do that at the end after house is done). I donít get the impression he is a scam artist, but is really bad at planning and fairly incompetent.

I'm assuming BBB, etc would be useless in this situation - either I convince him to refund me some, hope he gives he a decent discount on the trenching (and doesn't screw that up), or let AMEX help?

†Other details
I made a few alterations to the driveway after the contract (making 12í vs 10í, but made it thinner to offset cost).† Rock calculations on his original contract was for 420 tons of rock and I ended up buying 380 tons
Based upon his original quote his labor should have been about $2000 and Iíve paid $3600
Not sure what it means at this point, but heís deleted his personal and business facebook accounts

TL;DR Ė OP tried to cut corners getting a guy from Craigslist who underbid the project and is now trying to limit his cost exposure. My biggest issue is that Iíve just paid too much labor.

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Most Recent Posts
Perfectly said and so very true.

Also... the licensed, bonded, insured comment - in many parts of the country there is NO... (more)

slappycakes (Oct. 09, 2016 @ 8:35a) |

At least one person has already had to sue him. Do you really want to get in that line too? Just walk away. That middle ... (more)

ledwards (Oct. 10, 2016 @ 10:33a) |

Run, do not walk, away from the trench bid.

If the $7,200 was a bid and not an estimate, I'd probably take a stab at a c... (more)

Segfault (Oct. 11, 2016 @ 9:22p) |

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Sorry, didn't catch the paste job from Word - hopefully better now

nic3456 said:   The original quote was $7200 ... for 420 tons of rock.
....
$6,500 for the rock.
If just 380 tons of rock cost $6500, there is no way this guy was ever going to finish the job for $700.

nic3456 said:   Because of his financial situation and my timeline we verbally agreed for me to pay for the rockWhat did he say he did with the $3600 you already gave him to buy rock ?

Were laying gravel for the driveway and doing the trenching 2 parts of the same job? Or were they bid and estimated as 2 different jobs?

Not sure why you'd be talking about having this guy do trenching at this point. He's quoted you $2500 for the trench so by his math that will probably mean $4000. Do you have other bids for the trenching?


I don't see why you'd continue to do any work with this guy. You should find a competent contractor to do the trench.

so ... OP ... why didn't you just have the homebuilder do the driveway?

I guess you were thinking of having him do the trenching because he once promised to do it for free.

But now he's not promising anything. So... move on and don't make the same mistake with him twice.

nic3456 said: The original quote was $7200, but I ended up spending $11,350.

I had similar issues like yours without the delay in schedule. In the end, i figure I still paid a bit less than if I used the higher bid so I just moved on. It's a business decision on my part and I parted way with the contractor on decent term without much drama.

xoneinax said:   
nic3456 said:   The original quote was $7200 ... for 420 tons of rock.
....
$6,500 for the rock.

If just 380 tons of rock cost $6500, there is no way this guy was ever going to finish the job for $700.

† Agreed - he had told me he estimated $4500 for the rock (but not sure what that was based on)

xoneinax said:   
nic3456 said:   Because of his financial situation and my timeline we verbally agreed for me to pay for the rock
What did he say he did with the $3600 you already gave him to buy rock ?

† "That everything with his bank is frozen"

If I want a pond and the guy tells me he has to schedule it around the rental of a 26 ton excavator, that doesn't bother me.
If I want some gravel shoved around and he has to rent a bulldozer because he doesn't own one, and has trouble renting one because he screwed his main rental company so bad that they're suing him for payment...

jerosen said:   Were laying gravel for the driveway and doing the trenching 2 parts of the same job? Or were they bid and estimated as 2 different jobs?

Not sure why you'd be talking about having this guy do trenching at this point. He's quoted you $2500 for the trench so by his math that will probably mean $4000. Do you have other bids for the trenching?


I don't see why you'd continue to do any work with this guy. You should find a competent contractor to do the trench.

† I'm leaning this way too - but was hoping to recoup some of the costs like what Jerosen mentioned. But I suppose I will have a new of issues with him on the trenching.

his trench quote was $2500 the other two were $4500 & $5500

rufflesinc said:   so ... OP ... why didn't you just have the homebuilder do the driveway?
† I'm using a semi custom builder on my land so I'm responsible for the lot prep (the home builder was willing to do a bit more but they said they would just contract out the work at market rates and then charge me a 18% markup. (Their recommended driveway guys quote was the $15k one)

Is this property way out in the country with dirt and gravel roads? I couldn't imagine spending hundreds of thousands on a new house and using gravel for a driveway.

atikovi said:   Is this property way out in the country with dirt and gravel roads? I couldn't imagine spending hundreds of thousands on a new house and using gravel for a driveway.
† It's not that far out, but the drive ended up being about 560' long. We will hopefully switch to asphalt down the road once the budget allows.

nic3456 said:   "That everything with his bank is frozen"
Wait; to whom did you pay the deposit? I read the story as you paid the deposit to the equipment rental place. Your timeline makes it sound like you knew his accounts were overdrawn before you paid that money.

supersnoop00 said:   
nic3456 said:   "That everything with his bank is frozen"
Wait; to whom did you pay the deposit? I read the story as you paid the deposit to the equipment rental place. Your timeline makes it sound like you knew his accounts were overdrawn before you paid that money.

† I paid the deposit to the contractor in mid August. I only found out about his cash crunch/issues about 10 days ago. Prior to that he just mentioned that the equipment he was using on the other project was broken down and then he had weather delays. (Which were the reasons he claimed on why he wasn't able to get started on my project.)

nic3456 said:   
Not sure what it means at this point, but heís deleted his personal and business facebook accounts


† hahahahahahahahahahaha

You have such a well-worded post and I was following your arguments pretty much dead-on.† Then this...

I think we both know where this is headed...

lotusgardener said:   Try posting again.
† I only got through the first sentence-paragraph and I approve of this message.

Rent the trencher yourself. I did that with my 1200' of trenching. It was a little too small of a trencher for my job but I got it all trenched in two days.

Just make sure you know where all the utilities are so you don't go trenching through them. The water department couldn't tell me exactly where their line was so I had to hand dig a 10' long and 5' deep trench for my electrical line. That wasn't fun.


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nic3456 said:   his trench quote was $2500
Wow. That's a lot for outerwear. McGruff is on the case....brb!

Cut ties and move on.† You don't want to do any more business with this guy, and you aren't going to get anything back from him.† Best to part ways.

As an aside, you do know that your construction project is probably going to leave that new driveway in shambles, don't you?† All that heavy equipment coming in and out is going to make a mess of the driveway, and you are probably going to have some work to do on it when all is said and done.† I had a significant addition put on a number of years ago, and I was just resigned to the fact that a new driveway had to be added to the scope of the work.† The existing driveway was a complete wreck at the end of the project.

Man, this sounds exactly like the guy I hired to do a retaining wall once. "My truck broke down, the bobcat broke down, the trailer lost a wheel, the rental place took the machine, my guy didn't show up......" My guy finally did jail time for contractor fraud, but I never got my money back. Cut ties and move on as soon as you can.

I think I am going to follow the consensus here and not let him do the trenching - however I am going to reach out to him again for a partial refund in lieu of future discount. If he declined to return any money would AMEX help? Can you do partial charge backs?

You can always try. He's going to dispute it and say he did all the work.

drodge said:   You can always try. He's going to dispute it and say he did all the work.
† †If he's that unorganized and in the weeds - he may not dispute it.....

Why is nobody saying to do a chargeback????

ryoung81 said:   
drodge said:   You can always try. He's going to dispute it and say he did all the work.
† †If he's that unorganized and in the weeds - he may not dispute it.....

† Exactly, he has nothing to lose.†

No one's asked the obvious. Is this guys licensed, bonded, insured? You may be able to recover from the bond. If he's not licensed bonded and insured, then your fault.

Chargeback. Tell AMEX you didn't get what you paid for. They'll rule in your favor.

Big question, who did you pay with the Amex? If you paid the quarry for the rock, what are you charging back? You bought rock, you got rock. If you paid the guy with your Amex, sure charge back all day long.

nic3456 said:   
and the $3600 deposit.


When are people going to stop paying for the work up front? It's 2016. There's stories on the news, newspaper, and internet. Every time there's a contractor ripoff, it always involves an advance payment. If he needs an advance payment, you don't want him because he won't have any money to fix his mistakes.

As soon as a contractor says, "I need $x up front," send him away.
††

Chyvan said:   
As soon as a contractor says, "I need $x up front," send him away.
††

††
Perfectly said and so very true.

Also... the licensed, bonded, insured comment - in many parts of the country there is NO license or bond required for this type of work; and insured - the cheapest bidder is not likely to have insurance... and even if he did, collecting on a general liability claim would be hard.

The OP should use his chargeback leverage, but first he needs to understand what he's actually charging back and words the request properly.

At least one person has already had to sue him. Do you really want to get in that line too? Just walk away. That middle bid on the driveway is looking a lot more reasonable now, isn't it? Based on that outcome, I'd think seriously about taking the middle bid on the trenching too. There is no reason to believe that bids from Mr. LowBall/Zero Performance are realistic at all.

Run, do not walk, away from the trench bid.

If the $7,200 was a bid and not an estimate, I'd probably take a stab at a chargeback. It may be difficult to prevail, since I assume not all of the payment was made directly to him using the card.



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