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I have a remodeling project for about $2,500 and I have already signed the contract. When the contractor was making a new door on the wall he found a wire inside the wall. Now he is asking for an extra $600 to remove the wire; otherwise he cannot continue the project. We orally agreed before that I would pay him an extra $300 for hidden wires. But now he says he needs to charge $600 instead of $300 because the wall is solid. I have no problems paying him $600 but I do not want to be ripped off. I also do not want to terminate the contract and leave a hole on my wall. Is $600 a reasonable number? What are my options?

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  • Price estimates aren't given on this site, but you could reword to ask how difficult relocating (I'm assuming you need this wire connected) the wire would be. For which to answer we'd need to know more info. Also, you might just ask for a breakdown of how much of that $600 is for labor vs parts, and a description of the labor. – Robert Nubel Aug 29 '17 at 17:41
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    Bull alarm detected. Is this AC power cable? Or some other cable? This is profiteering and what you should make him do is fit a junction box , bring the dead cable into that box, and leave it to your electrician. – Harper Aug 29 '17 at 17:52
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    Alarm for me also unless feeder something larger than 12/14 gauge. I would expect wireing in most every wall. – Ed Beal Aug 29 '17 at 19:14
  • @RobertNubel I asked for a breakdown as $600 is almost an extra day's work (I am already paying him $800 per day including both labor and parts), but he would not give me. He said it was not about time or parts but just about the extra hassle. – Fan Aug 29 '17 at 19:14
  • I agree with Harper and Ed that price is steep. If he doesn't like hassles he got into the wrong business and a contractors license is not a license to steal. – ArchonOSX Aug 29 '17 at 20:19
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First, find out what the law is in your jurisdiction concerning hidden wires. It may be that removal is not required. If removal is required, or if you want to have it done for safety reasons, option A is to call another contractor or handyman service and ask for a quote. If the job can be done cheaper by someone else, it is ok to bring that person in for that purpose.

If you want the present contractor to do the job, option B is to say "I'll pay $300 after we sign a contract change document, and if you want to quit rather than do the job for my price, I can't stop you."

Option C is to pay the $600 provided that a contract change document is signed. I wouldn't choose this option without knowing that the removal is legally required.

You can find out whether removal is required by law in several ways. First, ask your contractor to tell you what law requires it, then look it up. Or you can ask any other licensed contractor. Or you can visit the county engineer (or whatever that department is called where you live) and ask. Another good question for the engineering department would be whether it would be acceptable to leave the wire where it is if both ends are properly terminated.

  • The wire needs to be re routed around the door, sounds a bit steep to me unless it is a feeder to a sub or something larger than 12/14 romex. – Ed Beal Aug 29 '17 at 19:11
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$600 is reasonable. Despite all the talk in the comments about "just reroute", that's a job. It's two connections and an extra length of wire, all tied in, in a legal, accessible fashion. It has stopped the job, and retooling is required. It kills a good part of the day. At $800/day, I'd go for a $600 flat price.

Despite what people on the innerwebs may tell you, a contractor's pay is not a negotible item, nor is it a flea market (gimme this and you throw in that). Heck, if a 9-5er had to deal with that, he/she'd call the labor board.

For the contractors here saying otherwise, shame on you.

  • If he just asked for the $300 we had agreed on I would have no problems. If he charged $600 from the beginning I would also have no problems. But now he doubled the price just because the wall is solid. I do not think he did not know the wall is solid. Also, is it much more difficult to reroute the wire for a solid wall? – Fan Aug 29 '17 at 20:39
  • By solid, do you mean concrete? – NPM Aug 29 '17 at 21:01
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    I have added a photo to my post. Please see if that helps. – Fan Aug 29 '17 at 21:10
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    ... continued: so in the sense of what I think is the ROOT of the question, it seems @Fan wants to ensure the contractor is not ripping him off. Clearly he feels he signed a contract for a good price, and is comfortable with paying more, (perhaps he knows he has received much higher quotes), so make it clear and in writing what the additional $600 covers, even if it is not detailed, and aim to keep your reasonably priced contractor happy, but be sure its clear you aren't going to bend over every time he wants $50 more. – noybman Aug 30 '17 at 3:25
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    Long story short, I paid $600 and he rerouted the wire. It was not a whole day's work, but it did take some time and he may have to come one more day than originally planned. I think there are faults on both sides. I should have asked him to write the potential extra cost into the contract. He should not have underbid the job and then asked for more. Most people would feel ripped off and be upset if asked for a 25% price increase one hour after the project started. But for now we are good with each other. – Fan Aug 31 '17 at 14:34

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