Preventivo re-negotiation!

07/25/2012 - 10:10

Having completed many UK projects with myself as project manager over the years we decided it was time to give me a break and use an architect who also has a separate fee to project manager a 'semi-renovation' of casaletto in Rieti. All has been going well until our builder presented us with extras for which we have no idea if the price is fair or not - to which most we have agreed to to keep the project going'. Included in these costs were €550 just to cover holes left by the electrician/plumber which seemed harsh as another local builder said he'd never charge for this if he was doing an entire job including total re-plastering as is the case with us. This and €1100 to move a smallish quantity of soil with a digger already on site has made us question everything thoroughly now. We've come a cropper as the builder offered at the end of the day, to undercut another local builder and gave us an inclusive price reduction of about 9% on the indivudually itemised initial preventivo if we gave him the total job. We have gone with this builder but now, as the architect tots up the list of what he has done and what he has not done from the preventivo, he is ending up wanting the same money because they are referring back to the individual prices from the first preventivo before we 'got real' and negotiated. Some work he hasn't done at all but becuase they are now referring back to the first prices it means we've ended up paying a much higher amount but haven't had all the work done. The preventivo lists at length for example how we will have three layers of plaster with a fine finish and all that is involved to leave it finished. When we visited last we decided however that the second layer of rougher plaster was fine and even checked with the builder he was happy for us to not ask him to do the final 'skilled' coat of smooth plaster as initially agreed. We welcomed that it would bring down the decorating costs too as the walls could then be left unpainted abd all windows are spray coated aluinium so no decorating costs there at all. There are extras that we've asked the builder to do - a terrace wall to build and depuratore fitted ecc so that he has earned at least 17k more than the first preventivo so I think we are not being unreasonable to have expected not to pay for plastering not done, doors not supplied and fitted, flooring laid etc...However, in referring back to the first prices and not the negotiated 'reduced' prices it now means for us even though we legitimately can remove some costs it works out the same for him more or less... one happy builder! However we have not yet agreed to how to refer back to the preventivo and what costs we are prepared to accept... it is hard not to feel a builder is 'pushing his lunch when he wants to charge more for the process of hand sanding down a wall and applying a coat of diluted acryllic fissitivo than fpr supplying real skill and materials to do a final last fine coat of plastering...and then he thinks he can charge us decorating on top which we've clearly not had. Should we refer to a 'quantity surveyor/geometra' type person for a fair assessment of what to pay? An 18 year old apprentice slapping a coat of watered down fixative (costs virtually nothing in material terms) over plaster is hardly something I'd be expecting to find a M2 price on...but maybe I'm completely wrong...? How did other renovators' final reckonings go? And what exactly is the relationship between an architect and builder in terms of 'their arrangement' usually?



When quoting for something, everything seems to go in a 'per m2 price'. The filling in of the hole left by the plumber and electrician should have been in the original quote as it was always going to need doing. I can't see why he says this is an 'extra'. The digger seems steep but they usually charge by the hour for the digger and then by the hour for the driver even if it is already onsite. However, what does your contract say?

  • Does it have the agreed price in with the list of works attached?
  • Did you sign one with both the architect and the builder?
  • Was the builder recommended by the architect?
  • When you asked the builder to do these additional works for you did he quote in writing or agree to substitute some other previously agreed job with this new one - again, in writing?

If it were me, I would sit down with the architect (who you are paying to manage the project) with the list of works, go through it item by item and note the jobs not done (and no longer required) at the original rate and add up the costs of these. I would then add up the costs of the extra works you have asked for at the rate the builder presumably supplied. See where that leaves you financially and if the extras come to more than the things you've knocked off then, get him to sort it with the builder. It is his job to do this and he is being paid to do that. In my mind it depends on how the discount was offered. Let's say the whole job price was 80,000 - did he say "if you give me the whole job I'll knock 10% off"? Or did he say "here is MY list of prices if you give me the whole job" and it came in at 72,000 - ie lower that the other guy? With the latter it is a lot easier but with the former it is a lot harder to renegotiate. If the stuff you have knocked off is more than the extra work you have given him then I think you are on dodgier ground as effectively you agreed a price for a list of works and have changed that list and he now ends up with less money at the end of the day so won't be happy. Either way your architect needs to resolve it with the builder if you are paying him to manage the project and all the changes went through him.

I agree with Penny, the works director  is the  in charge of the construction site, he did the calculations for the work that needed to be done and for prices to be met. And even he would have had to sign these prices to construction company. If the firm does not respect  sizes and prices, the manager, is the director of the work - not the  owner of the house.

Digger rate is high for a small job. The guys I use for Geothermal installs are E40 hr for bobcat and E60 hr for JCB size, all inclusive of the operator. They can excavate 2 x 120 mtr trenches 1.5 mtrs deep, x 1.2 mtr wide in a day. So 10 hrs is E600 with the JCB. Forgot to add, with a preventivo, price will be higher in case something unforseen occurs. Would get the hourly rate if straightforward job.

1.  Your architect has 'direzione dei lavori' in his standard contract - so I dont understand why you had a separate project management contract with him.  Its his job. 2. Your preventivo and computometrico are by law regulated by mq etc.  It should list everything except the things which you choose.  So it should give you the price for laying a floor, but not include the flooring which you will pay for depending on what you choose.  Once you have your computometrico you negotiate downwards on that price and stipulate other stuff.  once its all agreed its difficult to go backwards.  However, if your builder gave you an all inclusive price, it should be that - and he cant - in my opinion - start asking for stuff like closing up scassi and the rest.   The architect will almost certainly be getting a kickback from the builder.  Its better, (as it always is in hindsight) to agree everything up front and get it in writing.  If he gave you a 10% discount on the book price for an all inclusive job - then thats what he should give you, barring imprevisti.   For future reference, you should get at least 10% off the book price for everything, and then some... 

Thank you all. I signed lots of stuff...permissions etc but don't recall the architect asking me to sign a contract with the builder. We had an email from the architect saying the builder was now prepared to do the contract for €37,273 and we accepted. We are in a small village and the architect lives there now full-time himself and we have to tread carefully. On the other hand I feel we are being treated as if we are stupid and have no knowledge of what's involved so can have the wool pulled over our eyes. If we want to play fair can we turn to a local Geometra/Quantity Surveyor to make an impartial third party appraisal of what you should pay for such work as plastering done with two layers rather than three and strange 'labourers'' jobs to price up like applying a wash of PVA  sealer to plastered walls? How would you deal with disputing things with an architect within your village? Basically they are adding on everything they can and just hoping we'll not question things not done or finding an excuse to justify why we should pay for work not done. Within the preventivo were expensive things like supplying and fitting doors (now done by a friend of the architect not the builder) and decorating and laying a self - levelling compound on the floor etc. Somehow they seemed to have worked it out that we pay the same price without these works being done! Moreover I suspect the builder is not working on our jb at the moment until we agree to pay even this point we've already paid him far more than the work done. Hmmm!!

I think it would be very difficult to get a third party in to adjudicate without offending everyone. How do you know this third party would be impartial too? If you involve a geometra you will have to pay him and he could start making claims he is involved in the project (if he is less than honest) and a whole other nightmare opens up. You really need to grab the bull by the horns and sit down with the architect. Don't attempt it via the phone/SKYPE etc etc. Nothing works so well as face-to-face negotiations. Don't be afraid to stand your ground very firmly (tears often work and sometimes shouting - even better if you are pregnant as quite often in a negotiation an Italian man finds it very difficult to refuse a pregnant woman! Or maybe that's just my experience...) but also be prepared that you will have to give some ground too. This is how every negotiation works here - everyone makes concessions and a compromise is reached. Compromise and negotiation is imprinted in most Italian's DNA so I'm sure you will get somewhere with it. I would never pay the builder in advance of what work he has done either - I am sure you are already regretting it. A bit late maybe, but there is no incentive for him to turn up is there if he already has your money plus it means you can't hold a bit back if you are unhappy with anything. Just remember that having a heated discussion/shouting match with someone does not mean you have fallen out with them so don't be too British about it cheeky