Are Upcharges Legitimate?

Upcharges are a fact of life for most home improvement projects. Every project should start with a clearly defined scope of work, and a clear price to complete that scope of work. The person, or company, providing service should also be clear about what is not included, and what may lead to an upcharge. Your service provider may also call this a ‘Change Order’.

An easy example is a wall repair due to water damage. Assuming the source of the water has been identified and resolved (say, a roof leak), you are left with an area of wet drywall. Somebody can give you a price to cut out the drywall, replace the area removed, finish and paint it. What they cannot tell you, without openings things up, is what damage exists inside your wall.

Wet insulation, mold, and rotten studs are certainly possible; depending on how long the leak was present. Termites love dark wet places, so they are a possibility. A reputable contractor or service company should make you aware of these possibilities. If they priced the job for the ‘worst possible’ scenario they may price themselves out of the job. So, they price what they can see and warn you that additional charges are a possibility. In most cases things will just need to dry out, but an upcharge is certainly possible.

If your service person is warning you about the possibility of unseen damage, they are likely being straight with you. Do not hold that honesty against them. Others withhold this information, not wanting to scare consumers and possibly lose the job. This lack of candor is unprofessional, and you have every right to be frustrated, but it does not change the situation. They cannot know the full extent of the damage until the wall is opened up.

Unfortunately, some companies abuse the fact that change orders are ‘normal’. Knowing that many consumers intend to hire the cheapest company they can find for the task at hand, some companies ‘win’ the job with a low upfront cost and then have planned fees and upcharges for things that should have been part of the base project. Installing the hardware (doorknob and deadbolt) is not ‘unseen’ and should be part of the base price for a door install, it should not be an upcharge.

This abuse then makes people suspicious of any and all upcharges. While upcharges are certainly legitimate, do your due diligence and ask about potential upcharges. Upcharges for “unseen” damage is normal. Upcharges for things you believed to already be part of your project should be a red flag. Is this a company you want to work with?

Mr. Handyman does not play games, we are candid about what is included (and possibly excluded) from your project. We provide a clear price based on the scope. While upcharges are certainly a possibility that we will discuss with you, most of our projects do not have upcharges and the price presented at the beginning of the project is the price that most customers pay.

Warmer weather is not far away for greater Jacksonville and many consumers are starting to organize their Spring ‘to-do’ list. Many will do much of the work themselves but will need help on a project or two. Know who you are hiring, check out reputations, read reviews and call the company your friends and neighbors trust – call Mr. Handyman.