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Breeching A Contract With A Builder

 
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Old 06-05-2015, 02:21 PM   #1
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Breeching A Contract With A Builder


This is my first time posting on CT, but I've always found this forum very helpful in beginning my business. Anyways, I recently became licensed contractor in Portland Oregon at the beginning of the year. So far I've done pretty well working for homeowners, not making tons of money but keeping my customers happy and I truly love what I do. My specialty is finish carpentry and cabinet making, which is also what I've done for the last ten years working for different remodel companies. Now I've got my license and of course my first real problem.

So in trying to gain some more steady business, I responded to a builder who was looking to have a several houses trimmed out. I of course was excited for the potential business so sent him back an estimate on the plans he gave me. In his description, he described what he was looking for as "just hanging some doors with some base and case." So i made an estimate assuming that and I signed a contract before even seeing the house!!! This in its self is the dumbest thing I've done in business so far I will admit. After seeing the project I knew I was in over my head. 3500 sq ft of base molding, craftsman style columns, a fireplace mantle, 5 piece window casings all for $2550!!!

So I clearly stepped all over myself on this one, I did not get any money down and I have no way of hiring anyone at this point to help get it done in the 4 days allotted for the project. I contacted the builder, saying that I cannot complete the project and I want out of the contract. I told him it wasn't about the money (I understand not making money is part of the risk with this business) I just know that I cannot deliver on my contract. I of course receive threats of legal action and that I am destroying their schedule.

I feel terrible to be in this position, I do not want to be that flaky contractor none of want to be, but I cannot finish this project. What should I do? Should I be afraid of being sued? At most the builder lost 4 days off his schedule but am I on the hook for any cost with that?

Thanks for reading my ramblings, any guidance I could get on this matter would be greatly appreciated
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Old 06-05-2015, 03:20 PM   #2
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Re: Breeching A Contract With A Builder


Quote:
so sent him back an estimate on the plans he gave me. In his description, he described what he was looking for as "just hanging some doors with some base and case.
Was there a set of plans or just this guy saying "just hanging some doors with some base and case????

Quote:
So i made an estimate assuming that and I signed a contract before even seeing the house!!!
Why?

Quote:
3500 sq ft of base molding, craftsman style columns, a fireplace mantle, 5 piece window casings all for $2550!!!
Labor and Material or just LABOR?

Quote:
but I cannot finish this project.
Have you started? Something here isn't adding up.

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Old 06-05-2015, 03:22 PM   #3
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Re: Breeching A Contract With A Builder


How you gave a price based on "hang some doors and some base" its beyond me.

First of all do you have a signed contract with both signatures that you will do this and that in so many days?

If yes, a contract is a contract, and depends if he gonna take this allaway as a breach, it can cost his whole trim job what ever the next guy is gonna charge him. So if your price was 2500 and the next guys price is 3500 you can be on the hook for a grand not to mention the loss time off his schedule etc, but that would have to be proved on the amount.

To put this simply, if this goes to court you would have to make him whole.

Good luck I hope it works out.
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Old 06-05-2015, 03:50 PM   #4
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Re: Breeching A Contract With A Builder


The bid was for labor only based off of the set of plans i was given. Not a lot of details were the included I agree that giving a number without 1) looking at the job in person and 2) speaking to the project manager and not the the office guy, was just plain dumb on my end.

There is nothing signed saying that it would be done by a certain time, however it was told to me in person that they'd like to have it done within 5 days.

I worked one on the project already.

It is sounding like you guys are confirming my fear that is will be on the hook for cost of delay and finding another contractor if they choose to pursue it. I was really hoping to be able to walk away from this without totally screwing myself over and to learn from the experience.
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Old 06-05-2015, 04:24 PM   #5
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Re: Breeching A Contract With A Builder


If there's nothing in the contract about a finish date, keep working. They don't have any reason to harass you about it. If they simply say, "I'd like it done in 5 days," simply reply "I'd like another $5,000."
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Last edited by 480sparky; 06-05-2015 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 06-05-2015, 04:26 PM   #6
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Re: Breeching A Contract With A Builder


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Originally Posted by 480sparky View Post
If there's nothing in the contract about a finish date, keep working. They don't have any reason to harass you about it.
Bang

And if there is a date specified there is nothing saying you can't approach them to say you WILL finish but just not in the original time frame.
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Old 06-05-2015, 05:17 PM   #7
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Re: Breeching A Contract With A Builder


I assume the plan you priced off of match's reality and that you knew what was required.
if it is your screwed if you walk away .
if its not then you have grounds because there side of the contract is different.

if its only the time frame that is the issue then talk to them. explain that you don't want to delay the project but you will get it done in the shortest time possible
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Old 06-05-2015, 05:27 PM   #8
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Re: Breeching A Contract With A Builder


Is the contract even valid in your state without a start and finish date?

Is there specs in your contract? X amount of doors, X feet of base, X amount of columns and mantles with drawings of the details?

If not, the contract may not even be valid.
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Old 06-05-2015, 05:37 PM   #9
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Re: Breeching A Contract With A Builder


Quote:
Originally Posted by jpape1224 View Post
The bid was for labor only based off of the set of plans i was given. Not a lot of details were the included I agree that giving a number without 1) looking at the job in person and 2) speaking to the project manager and not the the office guy, was just plain dumb on my end.

There is nothing signed saying that it would be done by a certain time, however it was told to me in person that they'd like to have it done within 5 days.

I worked one on the project already.

It is sounding like you guys are confirming my fear that is will be on the hook for cost of delay and finding another contractor if they choose to pursue it. I was really hoping to be able to walk away from this without totally screwing myself over and to learn from the experience.

How would you "learn from the experience" if you were able to bail out without consequences. You have been in the trades for ten years. When you started your business, you had to know better than to just assume things.
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Old 06-05-2015, 05:57 PM   #10
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Re: Breeching A Contract With A Builder


Quote:
Originally Posted by Creter View Post
Bang

And if there is a date specified there is nothing saying you can't approach them to say you WILL finish but just not in the original time frame.
If there is a specified date in the contract, it typically is followed by the Penalty or Failure to Perform Clause.
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Old 06-05-2015, 06:36 PM   #11
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Re: Breeching A Contract With A Builder


I thunk you need to stop trying to run a business. You have no idea what you're doing.
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Old 06-05-2015, 08:14 PM   #12
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Re: Breeching A Contract With A Builder


If you haven't done any work there yet, then don't start. Just walk. Don't be stupid in the future.
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Old 06-05-2015, 08:20 PM   #13
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Re: Breeching A Contract With A Builder


Is there a start date on the contract? If not tell him you can't get to it for another 5 years.
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Old 06-05-2015, 08:27 PM   #14
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Re: Breeching A Contract With A Builder


I'll bet he's bluffing on the court thing.
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Old 06-05-2015, 08:27 PM   #15
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Re: Breeching A Contract With A Builder


Damn guys, he has been in business for ten years, he is bound to make a mistake now and then as we all are. I know I have made mistakes.

Andy.
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Old 06-05-2015, 08:32 PM   #16
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Re: Breeching A Contract With A Builder


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Damn guys, he has been in business for ten years, he is bound to make a mistake now and then as we all are. I know I have made mistakes.

Andy.
He has been doing the work for 10 years only been in business for 1
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Old 06-05-2015, 09:01 PM   #17
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Re: Breeching A Contract With A Builder


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Originally Posted by jpape1224 View Post
So in trying to gain some more steady business, I responded to a builder who was looking to have a several houses trimmed out. I of course was excited for the potential business so sent him back an estimate on the plans he gave me. In his description, he described what he was looking for as "just hanging some doors with some base and case." So i made an estimate assuming that and I signed a contract before even seeing the house!!! This in its self is the dumbest thing I've done in business so far I will admit. After seeing the project I knew I was in over my head. 3500 sq ft of base molding, craftsman style columns, a fireplace mantle, 5 piece window casings all for $2550!!!
what? did you guys meet on craigs list?

he saw you coming two miles away hook line and sinker sucker

by the way if your looking for work and work that cheap $2550.00 did you miss a zero in there I'll hire you just can't be a hack. Ok? My trim guy's contract price on a 600 sq ft one bedroom condo was $1900.00 plus extras only materials he supplied was labor glue nails and shims remember no hacks please
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Old 06-05-2015, 09:20 PM   #18
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Re: Breeching A Contract With A Builder


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Originally Posted by jpape1224 View Post
This is my first time posting on CT, but I've always found this forum very helpful in beginning my business. Anyways, I recently became licensed contractor in Portland Oregon at the beginning of the year. So far I've done pretty well working for homeowners, not making tons of money but keeping my customers happy and I truly love what I do. My specialty is finish carpentry and cabinet making, which is also what I've done for the last ten years working for different remodel companies. Now I've got my license and of course my first real problem.

So in trying to gain some more steady business, I responded to a builder who was looking to have a several houses trimmed out. I of course was excited for the potential business so sent him back an estimate on the plans he gave me. In his description, he described what he was looking for as "just hanging some doors with some base and case." So i made an estimate assuming that and I signed a contract before even seeing the house!!! This in its self is the dumbest thing I've done in business so far I will admit. After seeing the project I knew I was in over my head. 3500 sq ft of base molding, craftsman style columns, a fireplace mantle, 5 piece window casings all for $2550!!!

So I clearly stepped all over myself on this one, I did not get any money down and I have no way of hiring anyone at this point to help get it done in the 4 days allotted for the project. I contacted the builder, saying that I cannot complete the project and I want out of the contract. I told him it wasn't about the money (I understand not making money is part of the risk with this business) I just know that I cannot deliver on my contract. I of course receive threats of legal action and that I am destroying their schedule.

I feel terrible to be in this position, I do not want to be that flaky contractor none of want to be, but I cannot finish this project. What should I do? Should I be afraid of being sued? At most the builder lost 4 days off his schedule but am I on the hook for any cost with that?

Thanks for reading my ramblings, any guidance I could get on this matter would be greatly appreciated
If you did not take any money then I would not worry. Send the contractor an apology for making the mistake and ask if he wants to re-negotiate. In your situation the contractor should understand and if he doesn't then he is not the type of contractor you want to work for, anyway. I hardly doubt he will try to force you to complete the job. If you took money then send it back.

Contractors don't usually sue contractors for walking off jobs unless a lot of harm was done. Most contractors are just going to call someone else and they don't have the time to take you to court because they don't stand much of a chance to gain anything. It costs money and time to go to court and he will have to go to court no less than 3 to 5 times to get a judgment and even after he gets a judgment there is little to no chance that he can squeeze one penny from you.
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Old 06-05-2015, 09:21 PM   #19
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Re: Breeching A Contract With A Builder


Thanks to all of you for the replies, most of you have been very helpful.

To clarify, there was no official start date and no completion date. It was a spoken agreement. For that reason it would probably be the safest move to go back to work until it gets done, even if it takes me a month, and hope that the builder in fact pays me and is not impossible to work with at this point. That being said, I felt like it would the responsible thing to let the builder know now that I will not be able to be anywhere close to the timeline they’d like to meet so they can find a different contractor who can.

Also, I never claimed to be a great businessman, I am however a really good carpenter. I am trying my best to follow the laws and not be in situations like this. That is why I am here. I am 27 years old, I only been in business for 6 months and generally I am very cautious when it comes to the bidding process. Typically I error on the side of charging more and not getting a contract rather than committing myself to money losing deals. Every customer I’ve worked with been very pleased with my work and I get referrals often from them. However, this time I did not approach things the way I know I should. I sold my work way too cheap in order to get the job. The thought of having a solid builder with dozens of projects was a very promising lead and I trusted too much that everything would work out.

Anyways thought I would defend myself a little, this deal did blow up in my face, but I am in no way a hack or unable to do business.

-Jon
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Old 06-05-2015, 09:31 PM   #20
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Re: Breeching A Contract With A Builder


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If you did not take any money then I would not worry. Send the contractor an apology for making the mistake and ask if he wants to re-negotiate. In your situation the contractor should understand and if he doesn't then he is not the type of contractor you want to work for, anyway. I hardly doubt he will try to force you to complete the job. If you took money then send it back.

Contractors don't usually sue contractors for walking off jobs unless a lot of harm was done. Most contractors are just going to call someone else and they don't have the time to take you to court because they don't stand much of a chance to gain anything. It costs money and time to go to court and he will have to go to court no less than 3 to 5 times to get a judgment and even after he gets a judgment there is little to no chance that he can squeeze one penny from you.

Thanks for that pcplumber, I did not take any money down (another thing I never like to do) and you are probably right that its not worth there time to pursue it. I contacted the builder and told him that I could not complete the job and that I was very sorry for the mistake. His next move was to tell me how much I was screwing up there schedule and he'll have to take legal action if I do not complete it. So with that, I made my decision that they were not the type of people I'd like to work with

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