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I was given a quote by my contractor (approx. 30K) which included both a labour component (18K) and a material component (12K). However, for various reasons he insisted I pay for the material myself, direct to the retailer. I agreed.

In the end, the material costed significantly less (approx. 7K). However, the contractor is insisting on the full amount, claiming that had I not paid the material I wouldn't have known the difference in cost and he was taking the risk with the quote.

Is this how it works? Am I supposed to pay the full quote regardless?

(No, the quote was not itemized and we didn't agree to an hourly rate. It just listed labour and material. I was fine with the 18K for labour and still am. His final invoice is not itemized either).

Location is Canada.

Edit to clarify: He's looking for the full 12K for material and then pays me back the 7K.

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  • This is confusing to me, he's insisting on the full amount, but you also say "then pays me back the 7k". Is this work already complete? Did you already buy materials?
    – Hart CO
    Jan 22 at 14:43
  • Work is complete. I paid for the materials before each portion of the work to be done (e.g. shingles, vinyl flooring, etc).
    – user105807
    Jan 22 at 15:09
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    Ask him if he is paying taxes for the difference. I have a suspicion this money will not go on his official company account and never appear on his books
    – Manziel
    Jan 22 at 15:15
  • When you're done with this guy I got a few people from Nigeria who want to talk to you about your car's auto insurance.
    – Mazura
    Jan 23 at 2:41
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Is this how it works? Am I supposed to pay the full quote regardless?

No. The contractor is plain wrong.

Your agreed commitment to obtain materials directly from the retailer supersedes the initial agreement that totaled 30K. In other words, you two amended the contract. Since then, your obligations under the amended contract were to provide the materials he requested and to pay for labor costs.

the contractor is insisting on the full amount, claiming that had I not paid the material I wouldn't have known the difference in cost and he was taking the risk with the quote.

That is inaccurate. Once he delegated to you the task of obtaining materials directly from retailer, he exempted himself from any and all risks of giving an inaccurate estimate of the cost of materials. In fact, he shifted to you that risk.

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    I belive this is correct, indeed I would have given a similar answer. +1 But it would be a stronger answer if it could cite a statute or caselaw clearly establishing this principle for Canada Jan 22 at 16:00
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    It would also be worth noting that the usual practice would be for the contractor to provide copies of receipts for the materials to the owner, whereby any difference from the estimate would be shown. Is the contractor asserting that had the materials cost more than the estimate that s/he would have covered the higher charge and taken less profit? Jan 22 at 16:04
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    It's worth considering the following: if the materials costed more than the quote, would the contractor ask to refund you the difference?
    – Studoku
    Jan 22 at 16:24
  • @Studoku "would the contractor ask to refund you the difference?" I think you mean "agree" (?) instead of "ask". Regardless, the point both you and David Siegel make will test whether the contractor's "risk" argument is consistent. That would have to be ascertained from the terms of the contract, although it sounds odd when coupled with the condition that the OP obtain the materials by himself. Also the gap between contractor's estimate and the actual cost weakens the presumption of contractor's good faith, since he is expected to present a budget that is nearly accurate. Jan 22 at 21:19
  • Are you sure? From this short snippet I couldn't be. I once took out a contract for something and specified that if there are any subcontractors I will pay the subcontractors directly and deduct that amount from the primary contractor's pay. (Hint: lien defense) As it happened there were none but ...
    – Joshua
    Jan 22 at 23:46

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