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should we get legal advice?

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 06:53 PM


We had some big trees that needed to be removed from our block - got several quotes.

Decided on a contractor we liked and got him to come back and take another look at the job, just to confirm he could do the job. He decided it was actually a bigger  job than he first thought and wrote us out another quote (quote 2) - we thought quote 2 was too high and negotiated a reduced price on the spot - he changed the price on the quote to reflect the new price (quote 3).

We agreed that he could keep the timber and that after the job was complete and we'd paid that he could have some extra time to remove the timber from our yard as he was going to slab it and sell it to recover some costs. He indicated that the job would take approx 1-2 weeks and that he would need about 2 weeks extra for the timber removal.

We paid a deposit and he started work about 3 days later.  This was about a month ago now.

During tree removal he went several times and did cash jobs for neighbours (at least 4 we know of just in our street). There were some days he couldn't work due to high winds etc.

Damages - one neighbour's shed crushed and fence pulled down, one neighbour's concrete slab smashed. One lattice fence smashed, gutter from our 3 bay shed ripped off.

He kept asking for progress payments through all this which we paid (was not discussed prior to work starting though).

Finally after 4 weeks, all trees were down and our garden looked like a lumbar yard. He demanded full payment and we said we'll pay you when the damages are fixed.  He went off his tree (!) and started abusing my DH saying he was going to smash his head in etc.

He emailed saying his quote was going to change, then put quote 2 in our letterbox and said that we now owed him extra for this (it was a carbon copy that he had ripped out of the book before he changed the price). We responded by saying we would pay the original quote as agreed - he even wrote 'Fixed-price guarantee' on quote 3!

Last Friday DH went and bought a new shed for the neighbour (as we were tired of waiting and our neighbour is elderly and we wanted to make things right for her) and we built it on Saturday and said to the tree guy (who had come to fix the slab) that we'd take the price of the shed off his bill - he agreed to this.

On Sunday we paid him a further progress payment to show good will as he had started repairs and stated that the remaining amount would be paid when repairs were completed.

He has now come back again saying we have to pay him the increased quote and that if we don't he will take us to the small claims court.


#2 eachschoolholidays

Posted 19 November 2012 - 06:59 PM

I'd tell him to take you to small claims court, but based the story you have given here doesn't quite add up for me.

#3 mitty82

Posted 19 November 2012 - 07:00 PM

Messy, keep all written evidence. Get everything from now on in writing. Hearsay isnt that good.

As for the damages to others, has he got insurance??
Cos if not than the damages is up to you to pay as far as I am aware.

#4 laridae

Posted 19 November 2012 - 07:00 PM

Let him take you to court.  You'd probabby win anyway, so I reckon he's just bluffing you.

#5 qak

Posted 19 November 2012 - 07:01 PM

Its this guy a licenced contractor? Did you get consent from council for the tree work?

I would be checking if he had insurance ( I bet not) ... But I think my first call would be to your state department of fair trading.

#6 Mrs Lost Wanderer

Posted 19 November 2012 - 07:03 PM

I'm really not up on the rules/laws re: tree removalists but shouldn't he have insurance that covers and damage that may happen while he's doing his job? Damages should be paid by him in my book. Does he work for a larger company or is it just him? Wondering if there is someone higher up you could speak to about this? Even threatening to bash your DH is so not appropriate in any circumstance.

#7 tothebeach

Posted 19 November 2012 - 07:07 PM

They can only chase you for a price you have agreed to.  Have you signed quote three?  If that is the only signed quote that he has, then I don't see how he can chase you for a higher quote retrospectively.

We had this happen with a tradesperson, who gave a fixed quote and after the job was finished tried to charge more.  Department of Fair Trading laughed and told us that he wasn't allowed to do that.

Edited by tothebeach, 19 November 2012 - 07:08 PM.

#8 elmo_mum

Posted 19 November 2012 - 07:11 PM

friends of ours are tree loppers...
and i doubt that they are like
(hope its not them, we r in vic..

go to small claims - keep the receipt for the shed
take photos of EVERYTHING
and keep everything!

and fwiw - any tradie who ask for progress payments is a nutter - yes this is hindsight....

#9 JustBeige

Posted 20 November 2012 - 05:59 AM

No he is not allowed to change the price mid job.  

He should be paying for all the damages. thats whatt his insurance is for

He cant take you (well he can but I would expect them to laugh at him) to small claims court.  You have been paying him progress payments even though it hasnt been agreed to originally.

I would be absolutely talking to the Dept Of Fair Trade about this and if necessary making an official complaint so they can investigate.

#10 Apageintime

Posted 20 November 2012 - 07:24 AM

Office of fair trading in your state or small claims court

#11 morgansacre

Posted 20 November 2012 - 08:19 AM

When we subdivided our block we had to remove two big gum trees, we asked the guy who did our plumbing when the house was put on the block. He is a registered plumber, landscaper and tree lopper....very handy.

We never paid him a thing, he sent us a bill about a week after, and we paid it. The quote before this was verbal which we agreed on.

We took down both trees in the one day, cleared the site and apart from lots of leaves you wouldn't know he had been there. No damage to anything.

We found out while he was taking one of the trees down it was actually rotten in the middle, it could have come down on our house or the neighbours at any time...very scary.

This same guy removed our neighbours huge 150 year old pine tree. That took all day to get it to a stump.

I think you got someone that isn't a professional at this at all. This is obvious from all the damages done. This should never have happened.

I'd take this guy to Fair Trading, he's an idiot and hasn't got a leg to stand on.


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