Published on February 2nd, 2014 | by Grant Barnard


Contractors Extra Charges Fair? What Should Be An Extra Charge

Dollar SignExtra charges from contractors, typically called change orders, are a big issue between homeowners and the contractors that they trust to do the work on their home. Some extra expenses are warranted IF there are unforeseen circumstances. However the issue is with what exactly is unforeseen circumstances.

What Does The Contract Say About Extra Charges

Most of us are not attorneys. We are contractors and homeowners, and we all see it OUR OWN WAY. Most contractors that try to pull in the extra charges unfairly also have sub par contracts. However before you negotiate about hundreds or thousands of dollars in extra charges, be sure you know what’s in the fine print.


Fixed Price Bid

Fixed price bids are the most popular bid. They are cut and dry. The customer knows the exact size of financial commitment and the contractor should too. The fixed price bid leaves little room for extra charges and sets expectations  on paper. Fixed price bids should always be detailed so both parties know what is covered and what is not. Not that there needs to be a complete step by step process, it does need to be clear to anybody else that may read the bid. We are painters in Indianapolis and our bids are all fixed price bids. Should there be any sign of a possible scenario that could lead to extra needed work, we will give warning of that. Then our extra work would be on a time and materials situation.

Hourly And Materials Bid

Time and Materials are sometimes used but very rarely.  You need to trust your contractor and manage the situation so the workers are not taking advantage of the situation or making major mistakes that will cost YOU money. However you can always trust that they will not skip a needed step because its “On YOUR Dime”.

So What Is An Acceptable Extra Fee or Change Order

Communication Is Key

Communication is very important. Both the customer AND the contractor should actually see and fully understand the situation before proceeding. As the customer, you will need to know if the problem will likely occur on the rest of the job or if its isolated damage. You will also need to know a pretty close figure to what the extra charges will be before work is continued.

Definition of Unforeseen

You can read the webster’s definitions. Or here is one straight from google.

Not anticipated or predicted. “insurance to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances”

synonyms: unpredictedunexpectedunanticipatedunplanned, not bargained for,surprising

The Scam To Watch Out For

Some unsavory contractors will try everything just to get you for extra charges. Its simple, they bid lower to get the job and then they tack on extra charges to come back up to where they need to be. Not that the more expensive contractor may still try to tack on extra charges because some will. Please read our article How To Hire A Painting Contractor.


Communication is the biggest key to success with maintaining a good relationship with your contractor while also keeping the extra charges at bay. However “It” Happens and hopefully you have an experienced contractor that can deal with issues effectively and hopefully warn of common issues beforehand.

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About the Author

Grant Barnard started painting in 2000 and started Grants Painting in 2008. Originally doing business in northern Indiana, the business was moved to Indianapolis and Greenwood shortly after. Today the Grants Painting has blossomed into a reputable painting contracting company with an ever growing extensive website including our How To DIY Articles. Grants Painting covers all aspects of coatings and specialized in epoxy flooring, interior painting, exterior painting and cabinet painting.

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