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Final Bill more than quoted for - how to deal with

(9 Posts)
feelingduped Sat 05-Jan-13 22:29:31

Had an estimate for some damp investigation/remedial work and contractor has invoiced me for £900 more than originally quoted for.

We had various email and phone conversations and my file supports my figure. However contractor says the figure that I believe to be correct is one which is supplemental to the original estimate of £900.

What he says does not add up and I wrote to him to this effect just before Christmas. He has not replied yet and I just want to have an idea of what my next move should be. I'd rather be proactive than wait for him to reply.

prh47bridge Sat 05-Jan-13 23:04:36

You refer to this as both a quote and an estimate. The two are different.

A quote is a fixed price. The contractor cannot vary the price unless he does so in accordance with the quote (e.g. if there is a clause allowing the quote to change if the cost of materials changes) or you change the contract (e.g. asking for additional work or changing the specification).

An estimate on the other hand is the contractor's best guess. The final figure may be higher or lower than the estimate. If it was an estimate you may be able to dispute the way the final figure was calculated and/or the actual amount of work done. You may also be able to argue that the original estimate was negligent.

Having said that, this appears to be a dispute as to whether or not the estimate/quote you believe to be correct was a replacement for the earlier figure of £900 or an addition to it. You could pay what you believe you owe, in which case he could take you to the small claims court to recover the remainder and the court would have to decide who was right. Alternatively you could try to come to a compromise with the contractor.

feelingduped Sun 06-Jan-13 00:07:00

The £900 was an estimate. The later figure is probably an estimate as well - provided by email and phone conversation.

My difficulty is that I was in touch with the contractor regularly over the course of the works and at no time at all did he indicate that the work was more involved than anticipated - indeed one area which the estimate covered (to the tune of £230) did not need remedial works at all.

When I asked him, after receiving the invoice, how the figure could have increased by 50% his response in reference to the supplemental figure contained in the email was that he had plucked a figure from the air.

Of course I could pay him what I think I owe him (preferred position) or try to reach compromise but I do feel agrieved by what feels like remuneration by stealth.

PandaOnAPushBike Sun 06-Jan-13 15:06:29

It's a figure he says he plucked from the air? Does he not provide you with a full breakdown of how that figure was arrived at? We've had loads of work done on our house over the last 5 years. Every invoice we've had breaks down the costs so we can see exactly where it all comes from.

notnagging Sun 06-Jan-13 15:15:08

He sounds very unprofessional. I would pay what he quoted in the first place. He should have made you aware if the price was going to change.

feelingduped Sun 06-Jan-13 15:50:25

Panda, he was referring to the estimate. I would have thought that someone who has been in the business for 30 years would do better than plucking figures when giving estimates.

What is annoying is that at no time at all during the works did he mention that they were more difficult/involved more material etc than originally expected.

He presented me with the invoice, £900 (50%) more than estimated, and expects me to be ok with this?

mycatlikestwiglets Mon 07-Jan-13 09:40:05

feelingduped the final bill is 100% more than the estimate - the estimate is 50% of the final bill. There's a quite a difference! Any reasonable professional should be estimating based on their knowledge and experience, not plucking a figure out of the air - otherwise what's the point in giving an estimate? Speaking as a solicitor, none of my clients would be happy paying a bill which was double my original estimate for a piece of work.

The fact that you had an original estimate, not quote, means that there may be good reason for your final bill to be higher than you anticipated. However, in your position I would be checking what the original estimate covered (hopefully it's detailed in your original email exchanges) and asking for a full breakdown of how he has reached the amount shown in the final bill. He should be able to provide this and it would be expected were he to take you to the small claims court.

feelingduped Mon 07-Jan-13 18:45:58

Wiglets, original estimate was £900 but additional works were required and by email and telephone I was told that the additional cost would be £800 (total £1700). However he is says that email is to be ignored and replaced by later phone conversation in which he said that the cost would be £1700 - he contends that he meant £1700 for additional work. I have a file note of that conversation that details the works to be covered by £1700 to be the works in the original estimate plus the additional works.

His email with his invoice also has a supplementary estimate with a note requesting acceptance of the estimate - this clearly should have happened at the time additional works were discussed and not when works were already completed and at the time of invoicing.

mycatlikestwiglets Tue 08-Jan-13 09:23:11

So the original estimate was £900, then you were told by email the total cost would be £1700, but the contractor is now saying that £1700 was additional to the original £900 - is that right? If so, from your latest post it sounds to me as thought the email in which £1700 was mentioned was actually a quote - but even if still an estimate, it sounds pretty clear that it covered the work which was actually done.

It sounds to me as though you should pay the £1700 and let him chase you for the rest if he is so inclined - bear in mind though you might need to defend yourself in court if he takes it further (but that isn't as difficult and/or intimidating as it might sound and there are loads of people on here who can help you along the way)

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