Construction problemz. What are my options?
July 22, 2014 10:01 AM   Subscribe

We are remodeling our house and we just learned that the windows are arriving a month later than originally planned. What are our options for getting some of our money back to cover the added expense this will incur?

This delays the whole project by a month, creating tons of additional expense. I'm trying to get a partial refund from the window company, but unfortunately the contract does not obligate them to do anything. If they decide not to do the right thing, what are my options (aside from "learn from this experience")? All I really want is reimbursement for added expense - karmic vengeance and/or bad yelp reviews don't interest me unless it's a means to the aforementioned end. PS: the windows are coming from a company in Austria.
posted by Anonymousness to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
And where are you?

My reaction is that generally this is why you build an allowance for contingencies (unexpected circumstances) into your construction budget.
posted by beagle at 10:07 AM on July 22, 2014

We are in California. And yes, ultimately we can absorb this, but we certainly want to explore any means of getting some recompense.
posted by Anonymousness at 10:09 AM on July 22, 2014

My experiences suggest that companies are very careful to put delivery ESTIMATES in their contracts, if anything at all.

You might just be shit out of luck.
posted by lydhre at 10:17 AM on July 22, 2014

Materials delays are pretty common occurrence in construction. Contracts rarely even allow you an option to pay extra for a guaranteed a delivery date. You might pay for an expedite at the factory, but there's not a committed date of delivery. This is especially true for materials from non-domestic sources. There's always the customs clear - which is sometimes a non-event and sometimes a big hairy wait.

Barring a contract which specifies a delivery date, this is a cost that hits your contingency budget.
posted by 26.2 at 10:24 AM on July 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Who are you trying to get reimbursed by? Do you think your local contractor in California is the one who is also manufacturing these windows in Austria.

The contractor who is installing the windows did NOT create this delay. I can pretty much guarantee that he wants to finish the job and get paid.

Why did you buy windows from Austria? It did not occur to you that specialized material, like having windows shipped from the other side of the planet, might cause a time delay?

I am an electrician - and I have been in the reverse of your situation lots of times. I have customers who had the house designed very carefully to specs. We are then given specs for light fixtures, and we order them. This can include fancy light fixtures from Europe. As an electrician, I have no control over the manufacture or delivery of those lights.

From experience, I have learned in these cases to always remind customers in writing that as a local contractor, I have no control over the manufacture or distribution of your fixtures.

The "Window Company" at best is a franchise of the Austrian manufacturer, and if that is the case, at least you are annoyed at the correct company name. However, more likely, the Window Company in California is simply buying windows from an Austrian Manufacturer.

It is very unfair to think you can hold a local contractor responsible for a delay caused by a manufacturer on a different continent.

If time is of the essence, then go to a local California window manufacturer, and get your windows in a week. But, if you want special windows from Austria, then you live with the shipping date.
posted by Flood at 10:29 AM on July 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

Flood, we are not trying to recover money from the contractor. As the question states, we are trying to recover money from the Austrian company (and its American distributor). And yes, it did occur to us that having windows shipped from Austria would incur a time delay. The delay I am talking about is an additional delay on top of the one we were bracing for. And the reason we bought them from Austria is because those were the windows we wanted.
posted by Anonymousness at 10:34 AM on July 22, 2014

For all intents and purposes, probably your only option is to ask the Austrian company and/or their American distributor if they would be kind enough to help you out by giving you a discount. That's probably all you can really do. Construction delays are happening in thousands of places around the country and world at this very moment. It's pretty much par for the course.
posted by Dansaman at 10:49 AM on July 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

This is a question about who assumed the risk of a missed date. Either you took the risk or the manufacturer took the risk and that is in the purchase agreement.

- Unless the company guaranteed a date which is specified in the purchase agreement, they did not take the risk of delay. They could have assumed that risk and built that into a higher price.

- If you signed a purchase agreement with an estimated (but not guaranteed) date then you assumed the date risk. You knew it wasn't guaranteed and made the purchase anyway.

I know it sucks and living in a construction site is tough. Think about this in terms of the contract you signed and not in terms of how you visualized this work completing on time. If you're thinking that the manufacturer should compensate you for risk you assumed, then your expectations are out of whack.

Also - having done construction on multiple houses and offices - this is temporary. A month after it's done, I always forget the time and budget overruns. Hopefully, the same will happen for you.
posted by 26.2 at 10:50 AM on July 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

Having just been through a major remodel, if this is the extent of your problems just be happy about it. It's unlikely you will get costs back, it sounds like your project is going well, don't stress about it. Put some tarps up and be happy they didnt find aluminum wires all through your house that required 100% rewiring.
posted by H. Roark at 11:34 AM on July 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

What does your contract/agreement/other paperwork say about delivery? Unless there is something written about guaranteeing delivery with specified damages if the delivery date is not met, pretty much all you can do is call the manufacturer and ask for a discount for your trouble. I wouldn't expect that call to be successful though.
posted by crankylex at 11:55 AM on July 22, 2014

(U)nfortunately the contract does not obligate them to do anything.
posted by humboldt32 at 12:25 PM on July 22, 2014

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