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“I have a customer claiming they shouldn’t have to pay for unforeseen charges and extras…”

"I am unable to pay the sub trades that did the work for me."


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July 27, 2015 by Steve Payne

Editor’s Note: In this one single paragraph from a renovator (name withheld), you can see three common problems that can kill your contracting career in short order.

(1) Not having an agreed upon process for approving change orders; and/or having a rough price – given too early – become the final price even when the final drawings and site conditions clearly indicate a higher price.

(2) Working for a “friend” and permitting that friendship to let them take advantage of you

(3) Continuing to work on a job long after massive red flags have come up about the client’s willingness to honour a deal.

Comments welcome…

“I have a customer claiming that they shouldn’t have to pay for the unforeseen charges and extras based on a rough price and drawing which was done months before actual drawings and contract. It is a substantial amount of money. The job is complete minus a generator that is set to go in but I am reluctant to install it because I know I won’t get paid. I have been lenient with the customer because they were friends. From day one the contract has not been met by them and I’m curious what my best course of action is. I am not a big company and this situation has caused huge strain on my family. I am into this at more depth than I can handle – and in fact I am unable to pay the sub trades that did the work for me.”


Steve Payne

Steve Payne

Steve Payne is the editor of Canadian Contractor magazine
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3 Comments » for “I have a customer claiming they shouldn’t have to pay for unforeseen charges and extras…”
  1. Jim Baird says:

    Even with a very clear contract, extra’s are the most challenging part of collecting. I’ve heard every excuse in the book. And written off lots of extra’s over the years that were just not worth the fight. The best solution may be to try to include the unforseen up front in the contract. You may overprice a few jobs and loose them, but better than not getting paid!

  2. Marten says:

    I think it is time to sit down and write out every change that was made, big and small. Assign a dollar value to it and talk to the client. After that off to a lawyer. Lessons leaned but no need to ride that. Need to get paid for work done. Working for friends are the hardest in my books.

  3. Marv Schupp says:

    A sad story indeed. Do you value the relationship that you have with your regular, trusted sub-trades who actually help you earn your living? Are you prepared for not only the potential legal ramifications of not paying your subs, but also the substantial loss of you reputation with them and who ever else they may associate with? Bad news like this travels quickly through the renovation community and you may find yourself having trouble finding anyone to work for you in the future and you certainly don’t need you suppliers finding out that you may not be credit worthy. All this for “friends” who seem to be OK with not paying for services rendered.
    Somehow, someway, pay your sub-trades and find some new friends and politely decline if they should require your services.