Author Topic: Who pays?  (Read 4179 times)

CommonCents

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Who pays?
« on: October 23, 2015, 11:48:47 AM »
A car hit our house this summer.  We've found it tough to get contractors to even come out to look at the house to give an estimate.  One came out but never returned or gave an estimate.  Another came out, said he wanted to bring out a structural engineer before putting in an estimate.  He chose an engineer (we had no input) and did not tell us there would be a fee (much less how much).  When the engineer was out at our house, he asked "Who am I working for?"  The contractor said he was working for him, the contractor.  Yesterday though we received a bill for $500 from the engineer.  It also lists a report we never received.

We plan to put this in to our insurance company (specifically we're going to ask the contractor to put it in his estimate that we'll submit to the insurance company), but we're worried that 1) they won't pay it or 2) they'll pay for only one structural engineering visit and we'll need a second after the wall is opened up, to see if there is any internal damage.

DH is pretty pissed we've gotten this bill when we: 1) did not choose the engineer, 2) were not informed that we would have to pay this cost, 3) were not informed in advance of how much it would be, and 4) never received all of the services listed in the bill (a report), but primarily because he is worried whether the insurance company will pay, particularly if there are two charges (before opening the walls and after) for an engineer.  Thus, not only are we out a hell of a lot of time for dealing with contractors (research, calls, more calls to get them to fix wrong estimates, needing to arrange time off from work to be there) and our house can never fully be returned to the original state (e.g. having to add a thin strip of molding to the stairs to hide the displaced stairs, and you can't just replace a few bushes in a 30 year old hedge and have it come out looking ok/the same as before), we'll also have to eat some of the costs rather than the dumbass who did not pull up his parking brake on a hill.  (We could sue, but it's more time than it's worth.)

I'm curious where you think this bill should have landed, and how hard we should push back on the contractor/engineer about paying it if our insurance company won't pay.

We're already finding this a delightful experience - the contractor's estimate is 2x what the insurance adjuster said, and on top of that we have a few thousand for landscaping estimates not included in the insurance adjustor's estimate that we've just put in for.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2015, 11:53:43 AM by CommonCents »

thd7t

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Re: Who pays?
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2015, 12:02:03 PM »
Had/have you hired this contractor yet?  Did he tell you that he charges for estimates?  The contractor should probably have given you a proposal from the engineer.  If you've hired the contractor, you should definitely request the report before you pay the bill.  It seems like if the engineer needs a second inspection (after opening the walls), the bill was premature.  You should definitely discuss this with the contractor.

CommonCents

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Re: Who pays?
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2015, 12:14:13 PM »
Nope, we have not signed anything with the contractor.  We have not hired him yet.  He did not tell us he charges for estimates.

MrMoogle

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Re: Who pays?
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2015, 12:45:12 PM »
So your insurance adjuster isn't the expert here.  Is it 2x than what they are going to pay?

If you are going with this contractor, then you're going to pay for it one way or another.  Was this $500 in their quote?  Or is it a all inclusive quote, that doesn't break things down?

If you go with someone else, based on the info you've provided, you shouldn't have to pay the $500.  If that's the case, call up the engineer and say they have billed the wrong person.

CommonCents

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Re: Who pays?
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2015, 12:49:36 PM »
No idea if it's more than they'll pay.  As I said, we're submitting the estimate and we'll see what they will pay and argue if needed for higher.

The $500 was not in the quote. 

Unclear if we are definitely going with this contractor.  We have only the one estimate, given we couldn't get another one.  We're annoyed at how this has been handled, which doesn't make us happy going with them, but I'm not sure that we have much choice if we want our house fixed before winter hits.  So - likely, but not definite.

thd7t

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Re: Who pays?
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2015, 02:07:20 PM »
So your insurance adjuster isn't the expert here.  Is it 2x than what they are going to pay?

If you are going with this contractor, then you're going to pay for it one way or another.  Was this $500 in their quote?  Or is it a all inclusive quote, that doesn't break things down?

If you go with someone else, based on the info you've provided, you shouldn't have to pay the $500.  If that's the case, call up the engineer and say they have billed the wrong person.
This is the right answer.  Bring it up to the contractor, so they know it's coming.  This could be an honest mistake.

jda1984

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Re: Who pays?
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2015, 03:45:12 PM »
I agree with the other posters.  At this point, you don't have a contract with the engineering firm or the contractor that hired him.  Even if you did have a contract with the contractor, the engineer is his sub contractor, so the contractor pays him and you pay the contractor (whether fixed price or itemized/time and materials).  I'd call the engineering firm and tell them they billed the wrong party and if they give you trouble state that you don't have a contract or other agreement with them, you (directly) never requested their services, and you have not received any deliverables.  Typically a deliverable (report, certificate of completion, etc.) is required to satisfy the contract and let accounts payable approve and pay an invoice.

Goldielocks

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Re: Who pays?
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2015, 10:30:19 PM »
The engineer erred.  Likely just habit to invoice the owners.  Just call to correct the error.

There is a small chance the contractor is playing games with the engineer, but that is between them.

If you want to use the contractor, it would be fine to have him/ her include the engineers fee in a later bill to you.  ( usually with a small markup).

The_path_less_taken

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Re: Who pays?
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2015, 05:32:35 AM »
I would not hire anyone who did that to me.

I would not pay any bill I did not CONTRACT services for/request.

Getting people to actually show up for remodels....tough. But you could also try and be more proactive: hit up the contractor area of Lowe's/Home Depot, or put it up "to bid" on craigslist even.

"Taking bids on house repair"
A car hit our house, see photo. If you are LICENSED (provide number), INSURED, have LOCAL references (and can eventually provide names/numbers), and can perform this labor by 11-11-2015, please submit a rough estimate via craigslist. We aren't looking for the lowest bidder, we're looking for the best, most reliable contractor. If that is you, please send us an idea of what it would cost, with the above info. We will NOT hire someone who isn't licensed, insured, and can provide references. Thanks."

ltt

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Re: Who pays?
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2015, 05:58:15 AM »
This should go against the person who hit your house---their insurance company.  All bills should be submitted to them.  Did the other person have insurance?

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Who pays?
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2015, 08:12:33 PM »
This should go against the person who hit your house---their insurance company.  All bills should be submitted to them.  Did the other person have insurance?

This is my question too.

Dollar Slice

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Re: Who pays?
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2015, 10:42:08 PM »
My parents had this exact thing happen recently, except the car stopped just before hitting the house - doing pretty serious damage to the stairs/railings/landscaping in the front yard. I believe the other person's insurance covered it since they were at fault, but if their car insurance didn't cover enough, I think the homeowner's policy would kick in.

And yeah, I certainly would not pay a $500 bill from someone I didn't hire.

CommonCents

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Re: Who pays?
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2015, 08:25:09 AM »
This should go against the person who hit your house---their insurance company.  All bills should be submitted to them.  Did the other person have insurance?

This is my question too.

Yes, he has car insurance, but it's going through our insurance first.  (I just called them when we had just been hit and I was a bit in shock.  Didn't think till afterwards we could have just called up his car insurance and gone directly through them till afterwards.)  On the positive side, I figure this means our insurance company should do the fighting for us and make it easier for us.  On the negative side, we were hit end of June, it's end of October 4 months later and they still haven't paid up for something clearly their insured's fault.  The house didn't leap in front of the car.  Our insurance (USAA) paid up for the amount over the deductible within the week of their inspector's report.  (Of course, that's only a small amount now, compared to the estimates.) 

Fun things?  The owner of the unmanned vehicle had actually accidentally let his drivers license expire by about 2 weeks at the time of the incident.

Apparently everyone is surprised our bricks didn't crack from the impact.  Apparently they don't make them like they used to.  (House was built in 1933.)