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Handyman Balance Recovery for Bathroom Renovation?

Discussion in 'Commercial Law Forum' started by Paul Marshall, 30 May 2014.

  1. Paul Marshall

    Paul Marshall Active Member

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    Hello.
    I run my own business as a handyman. I was recently retained by a bathroom renovation company to do some "finishing off" (repairs, painting, woodwork etc). I have worked for this company on several other occasions without incident. Unfortunately this time they have considered my invoice to be excessive and have only paid 54%.
    They did not ask for a quote, nor was one provided. The scope of work was assessed and agreed would take one week. There were additions mid-way and the invoice was sent out for 52 hours + materials + GST.
    How do I stand legally under contract law to recover the balance?
    Your advice is much appreciated, thank you.
     
  2. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

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    Can you show that you agreed on the amount you would be paid for the work?
     
  3. Paul Marshall

    Paul Marshall Active Member

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    No. Nothing in writing, all verbal. Never been a problem before, we have always got along really well so I tend to dispense with the formalities.
     
  4. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

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    Well, in order to press for payment,
    you will need to show that the sum in question
    was agreed to.

    Dispensing with the formalities is a choice of business practice
    you make at your own (commercial) risk.
     
  5. winston wolf

    winston wolf Well-Known Member

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    Have you pressed them on this?
    I think you would only need to demonstrate the work done was what was agreed to and you charges were not unreasonable compared to previous work.

    Did you quote for all previous work and were any of those quotes rejected?
     
  6. Paul Marshall

    Paul Marshall Active Member

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    I haven't pressed them yet, as I am unsure of the correct protocol and indeed, whether or not I have a legal leg to stand on, so to speak. I did try to send an email yesterday with a receipt for the payment attached, but it bounced back saying the mailbox was full.
    I feel my charges for this job were consistent with previous jobs, however it is hard to compare apples with apples due to the variable nature of my work. In other words I did things I have not necessarily done for this customer before.
    I have never been asked for a quote from this customer and they have always paid promptly and even recommended me to others saying that they could be sure of receiving a high standard of workmanship. A very nice reference indeed and the very one that my business has survived on for 11 years without advertising. An achievement I am very proud of.
    This is very disheartening.
     
  7. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    With nothing in writing it is hard.

    You said you agreed it was one week's work. That makes 40 hours. Who at their end agreed to that? And does he say still agree with that?

    Next you mentioned additions. Again, who with and do they still agree there were additions?

    At minimum sounds like they should pay the 40 hrs at your standard hourly rate.
     
  8. Paul Marshall

    Paul Marshall Active Member

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    Thanks Rod. The main man who showed me the job said he expected it would take a week. I don't know what he would say now as he hasn't returned my calls or text messages. He hasn't discussed this dispute with me in person at all. His wife called me when they received a breakdown of the invoice and was fairly unpleasant about it but I stayed calm.
    The additions were discussed with him and the client was present. He wouldn't have included these additions in his quote so the client was made aware he would be paying extra for these works. This prompted him to ask me by email for a breakdown of the invoice so that he knew how much extra to charge them. At this point there had been no dispute. I sent the breakdown and that was when the trouble started.
    Fairly simple logic would dictate your assertion about 40 hours minimum, I just don't know the correct way to retrieve it. I will mail the updated invoice/receipt to him which shows the outstanding amount but what happens if/when he doesn't pay?
     
  9. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    "I will mail the updated invoice/receipt to him which shows the outstanding amount but what happens if/when he doesn't pay?"

    You have two considerations, one commercial, one legal.

    Commercial: Do you expect and want further work from this person? If no, go straight to legal option. If yes, how much is it worth to you to press this issue? Maybe chalk this one down to experience, tell the guy there was a misunderstanding and that you'll let this go and ensure all future is quoted and accepted first.

    Legal: Depends on what state you are in. In Victoria it is VCAT. I have not done any business in other states so can't comment on them other than to say that most, if not all, have very similar tribunals. Go for the full amount if pressing for a legal solution. Do not offer to reduce the amount unless you make it clear that that is full and final settlement and must be paid within 7 days. If not paid, you reserve all your rights. Then you send final letter of demand, and if not paid then, take him to VCAT.

    It can be hard to let go of the issue emotionally but you need to if you want further work from the person.
     
  10. Paul Marshall

    Paul Marshall Active Member

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    Thanks Rod. I am in NSW. I don't want, nor do I expect any more work from this man as I am not used to being treated so poorly.
    If I understand you, sending him the invoice/receipt with outstanding balance due in 7 days is my first course of action. Then, if unpaid, send final letter of demand. If unsuccessful then seek tribunal intervention. Correct?
     

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