Legal Question in Construction Law in California

We had a new front door installed on our residence and went with a local contractor. He never provided a written estimate nor did we sign a formal contract and when the job was finished we were billed for $1,723.00. The actual door and material costs were $800.00 (which was verified) and were billed 16hrs x $57.50/hr for labor. They used the old hardware from the replaced door and left the old door for us to dispose of. The installation was completed in one day by two of his workers. They sat around for approximately 2 hours waiting for their boss to deliver the door and related materials. We are now disputing the billed but did send a check for $1,000.00 and wrote 'Paid in Full' on the memo line of the check. They have not negotiated the check and are asking for the $1,723.00 to be fully paid. In speaking with the owner/contractor he fills justified in the amount he has billed us for this project but does state he should have provided a written estimate prior to starting the project.

What are our legal options? We wish to resolve this dispute amicably but feel strongly the $1,000.00 we sent should cover everything.

Brad & Christine

Asked on 6/08/10, 7:10 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Timothy McCormick Haapala, Thompson & Abern, LLP

If materials was $800 alone, I can't see how you feel justified in paying only $1,000.00 total. It sounds like you should not be billed for 4 man-hours, but that would leave you owing $470.

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Answered on 6/08/10, 11:25 am
Joel Westbrook Miles & Westbrook

Under most circumstances Business and Professions Code Section 7159 mandates that any home improvement contract of $500 or more should be in writing. So your contractor should have provided you a written contract before performing any work. His failure to do so may render the contract unenforceable and give you a basis to complain to the Contractors State License Board.

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Answered on 6/09/10, 10:23 am

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