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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    3

    Default Billed Without Contract in New Hampshire

    My question involves business law in the state of: New Hampshire

    I asked a general contractor to give me a quote for my home office (I run a small professional services business) in order for me to have a more professional meeting place with my clients. At the same time, the contractor asked what other construction projects I'm planning on doing and I told him that my bathroom needs to be done eventually. He said that it's best to figure out a quote for them together and then do them in sensible pieces, which would also lower the total cost of the two separate projects. I agreed and asked if he could now give me a quote, since he has already measured everything and it's pretty clear what I want. He said that he has to look into it, but told me that we need to design this project first. I wondered why, and he pointed out that without a design it's hard to figure out a total cost and how to break it out into individual pieces. I said that I was okay with that, but what I really want is a quote. This whole conversation took place verbally.

    After he went home he redrew my bathroom several times, and each time we changed some details a tiny bit. He never got the thing right though, and eventually - in his frustration - sent me this bizarre 3D view of my office and bathroom, which I never requested or wanted. After that he suddenly told me that I owned him some $1,000 for various designs that I couldn't use at the rate of $75/hour. I did not acknowledge this, but instead asked him to get a "quote for this total project". He did not give me this, instead he sent me a partial quote, between $5,000 and $7,000 dollars that covers anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 of the total project. That gives me a range that is obviously so wide, that it's completely unusable to me.

    To summarize:
    1) I authorized verbally some design work to get a quote
    2) I never got that quote
    3) I never agreed to pay for this work
    4) I never agreed to a $75 hourly rate
    5) I never acknowledged his bill or his rate - I didn't comment on it in any shape or form
    6) I have saved all written communications that we've ever had - there never was a written contract between us

    So the question is, do I own him this money or can I just fire him without paying him?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    27,810

    Default Re: Billed Without Contract in New Hampshire

    After that he suddenly told me that I owned him some $1,000 for various designs that I couldn't use at the rate of $75/hour. I did not acknowledge this, but instead asked him to get a "quote for this total project". He did not give me this, instead he sent me a partial quote, between $5,000 and $7,000 dollars that covers anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 of the total project.
    If you, at the point of receiving that bill, said that you have never agreed his creating a quote were at a financial cost, you would have a strong argument to deny payment. The problem comes about when you asked for additional services after you were made aware his services were not free. The fact you did not address the bill does not remove the fact you were aware he intended to charge for his services as evidenced by him delivering a bill to you for the prior services.

    I believe you owe him some money. How much I cannot say.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    3

    Default Re: Billed Without Contract in New Hampshire

    Quote Quoting jk
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    If you, at the point of receiving that bill, said that you have never agreed his creating a quote were at a financial cost, you would have a strong argument to deny payment. The problem comes about when you asked for additional services after you were made aware his services were not free. The fact you did not address the bill does not remove the fact you were aware he intended to charge for his services as evidenced by him delivering a bill to you for the prior services.

    I believe you owe him some money. How much I cannot say.
    He didn't send me a bill at that point. He only randomly, suddenly told me that "Also just to keep you up to date on cost of design I have spent 13 hrs so far on this project at $75 per hr." At that point I did ask for the quote again, and if I have to pay him $75 for him to figure out that quote (which he didn't even do), I guess I'm fine with that. What I'm not fine with is him charging me for 13h of work that he did without a prior contract nor my acknowledgement. He just sent me an official bill on this today (I have not reacted to this in any way, shape or form), which is the reason why I'm here asking advice.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    27,810

    Default Re: Billed Without Contract in New Hampshire

    He only randomly, suddenly told me that "Also just to keep you up to date on cost of design I have spent 13 hrs so far on this project at $75 per hr." At that point I did ask for the quote again, and if I have to pay him $75 for him to figure out that quote (which he didn't even do), I guess I'm fine with that.
    but that also would have made you aware of his intentions to bill you for 13 hours @ $75/hour. Your failure to rebut his claim to the fee is a tacit agreement. Even after that statement, you continued with his services. Due to that, I see, at least, an implied agreement to pay him $75/hour for his services, including the 13 hours dedicated to your project prior to you being aware there was a fee for his services.

    If you do not agree with the fee, speak to the guy and tell him what your beliefs were concerning his work and see if he will adjust the fee. If he won't, you can either pay or refuse. If you refuse and he feels he is entitled to the fee, I would expect to see him in court.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Billed Without Contract in New Hampshire

    Quote Quoting jk
    View Post
    but that also would have made you aware of his intentions to bill you for 13 hours @ $75/hour. Your failure to rebut his claim to the fee is a tacit agreement. Even after that statement, you continued with his services. Due to that, I see, at least, an implied agreement to pay him $75/hour for his services, including the 13 hours dedicated to your project prior to you being aware there was a fee for his services.
    Just to let you know how this story ended. I went to speak with a lawyer, who informed me that I do not owe him anything for the first 12h of work, because I didn't agree to it and there was no contract. My lawyer then added that, since I asked for more services, I do owe him for roughly 1h of work. But to minimize the trouble and avoid small claims, he suggested that I'm trying to settle for $100 with the contractor, but only after he has contacted me. Eventually that happened, I told him my side of the issue, he immediately dropped his claim and told me to go to hell. So all in all, I didn't lose any money.

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