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post #1 of 16 Old 09-21-2009 Thread Starter
TAK
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Hiring / Controlling a Contractor

I recently hauled the boat and had a new Dripless seal installed – replacing an old bronze one that was leaking excessively. I also was going to have the cutlass bearing replaced. I got a recommendation from a couple of people and got an estimate from this contractor in Annapolis that I thought was acceptable. I won’t say who it is. His quote for labor for the project was 7 hours. During the project he communicated with me that he was having difficulty aligning the shaft. He ultimately removed and then re-bedded the strut, spending considerable time achieving an alignment. He completed the work, boat is back in the water and I have a lovely dry bilge.

I received the invoice this morning. The labor was 24 hours. Frankly I am not sure how to approach this. Is 24 hours of labor for what he did appropriate vs the 7hr. he quoted? From my perspective if it a normal installation was to only take 7 hrs, then it took him 17 hours to essentially align the shaft and what is involved in that. I would expect a professional to do it in much less time. I have no qualms about the quality of his work.

Am I off base here?

Additionally going into this I noted on his estimate the following statement: "This is an estimate only. Final invoice may vary up to 15%."

What would you do? What should I have done differently?

s/v Mahalo
Caliber #4065

ACM - Eastport MD

Last edited by TAK; 09-21-2009 at 01:39 PM.
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post #2 of 16 Old 09-21-2009
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I think there is room for an adjustment in the labor hours. Obviously, the scope of work dramatically increased when the alignment failed. I would not pay for more than 6 hours of labor to align the engine, unless the contractor can prove the strut was damaged and indeed preventing the alignment. But, the work WAS done and, in my mind, it should be paid to some extent. But not 4x.
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post #3 of 16 Old 09-21-2009 Thread Starter
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The strut was not damaged .. the removal and re-bedding involved shimming and a slight re-boring of the holes..

s/v Mahalo
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post #4 of 16 Old 09-21-2009
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Estimate vs bid

An estimate is just that, an estimate for the work that is to be done. If the work grows considerable the contractor should stop and let you know and give you another estimate. If they proceed without your permission they are doing so at their own peril. You said he told you he was having difficulty. Did you acknowledge it and say go ahead and do it? If so you gave him permission to do the work at the higher labor level. On the other hand most reputable contractors will make sure you know what you are getting into and will stick to their estimates even if they took more time to do the job. They want the next job and word of mouth advertising can be killing if he gets a bad reputation.

Talk to him about what happened and ask for an adjustment. You will get it if he is honest. If not take it as a learning experience and tell everyone, including the friend that recommended him, what happened. If you do get an appropriate adjustment tell people that also.

Good luck. I've been there and learned from my mistakes.


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post #5 of 16 Old 09-21-2009
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It's a bit tough to believe that pulling the shaft, adding a dripless seal and replacing a cutless bearing should be cause for a full scale (difficult) re-alignment... unless the alignment was that bad to begin with, in which case you should have noticed prior to the work being done...

Relocating the strut wrt the rest of the drivetrain seems pretty drastic action IMO....

Ron

1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"

".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)
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post #6 of 16 Old 09-21-2009 Thread Starter
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He indicated the prop was not alligned in the first place but there was not real relocation a couple of the holes were bored w/ the file to allow the strut to move over just a fraction..

s/v Mahalo
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post #7 of 16 Old 09-21-2009
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Originally Posted by TAK View Post
He indicated the prop was not alligned in the first place but there was not real relocation a couple of the holes were bored w/ the file to allow the strut to move over just a fraction..
Perhaps your issue is with Caliber..... unless you'd hit some debris at some point and bent something...

Ron

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post #8 of 16 Old 09-21-2009
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I removed my strut & replaced the cutlass bearing clean reseated the strut and even glassed & faired it out in less than 6 hours (time included lunch) I think the contractor should have called you and given a revised estimate if the cost was going to grossly exceed the original estimate
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post #9 of 16 Old 09-21-2009 Thread Starter
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Thanks Cruising dream thats good input.. I knew it was going to be more but the contractor was uncertain what it was going to be..

s/v Mahalo
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post #10 of 16 Old 09-21-2009
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TAK,

I have no idea what this job entailed. I am not a boating contractor and have never owned a boat with an inboard engine.

I am also not a lawyer, and don't know that an estimate/bid is a legal contract.

But I am a housing/renovation contractor. You should be happy that the work was done correctly to your satisfaction, but a final bill 4x the original estimate is unacceptable. The contractor should have had some idea what the job entailed and should have given a realistic estimate. Yes, sometimes a job or client turns out to be a nightmare, but other times it's a dream.

A contractor makes his money on his dreams, and slogs through the nightmares.

But you are an obviously unhappy client. I would call the contractor and negotiate a lower bill. Of course, I would not recommend him to others. Maybe this sort of work is his MO.

As a client, I might even send him a check for say 2x the original estimate. He may cash it and accept it as payment for work done (write in the memo area Complete Payment for xxxx). I doubt it would be worth his or your time to take it to court.

Scott
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Last edited by NautiG; 09-21-2009 at 04:07 PM.
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