A horrible older friend of mine was told verbally by a contractor in the state of Michigan a project would be two to $3000. He has collected over $21,000 with nothing in writing. Just request for cash payment.
Aug 5, 2019
I'm really sorry to hear about that. Generally, change orders must be made in a way that's consistent with the contract for work. Meaning, if the contract states that change orders must be executed in a certain way, then any change order won't generally be effective unless it's been executed in the way specified in the contract. It's certainly much easier to determine if change orders have been proper when there's a written contract. But, when verbally contracting, presumably, verbal change orders would be effective. That is, as long as the property owner has agreed to and authorized those changes. Of course, at any time, an owner can decline to approve the next change order. Or, they can try and put a new change order process in place. Though, if the work was already done, that might cause problems.
Note, though, that where a project has far exceeded the original scope of work, where nothing is in writing, and where a contractor continuously asks for cash payment - that's a situation ripe for fraud or misconduct. And, regardless of any issue with how change orders are being made, it's worth looking into whether the work performed at all corresponds the prices being charged for that work. If you believe a contractor has been violating licensing rules, or has been taking advantage of an unsuspecting homeowner, you can always file a complaint with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Or, a complaint with Michigan's Department of Attorney General might be worthwhile.
Without more specifics of the type of project being worked on, and without more insight on whether the contractor described above has been properly performing work, it's hard to determine whether payments are being properly requested or made - but consulting with a local construction attorney could provide a lot of clarity there. They'll be able to thoroughly review the circumstances and determine if foul play has taken place.