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Money Drain: Contracts with Friends are Necessary

I was reminded of my story by the earlier one about editing for a family member.

My wife and I enjoy using our TV for movies and video games, and over time discussed building our ideal entertainment center to hold all that stuff. My wife did up some three-view drawings as a ‘someday’ idea, as we didn’t have the tools or experience to build it. One night we were chatting with her brother when the idea came up, and he said “I can help with that!”

It took her brother three years. He wasn’t local, so we couldn’t check on things. Originally he was only going to do the basic work that needed the tools, but he wound up doing everything. He wanted to make certain that the finish would last, for example, or that the doors swung just so. He never went into how much these extras cost — and we never asked.

Finally, at delivery, we wound up paying roughly $2500 extra. Since he was a family member, we hadn’t bothered with a contract. The basic work was physically solid, but the extras caused the cost to balloon. Important features were not done as shown on the drawings, such that it wasn’t as flexible as we wanted. The kicker is that some of the extras were outside his expertise and haven’t held up!

He’s asked if we want anything else built since, but I’ve always shrugged. I’d rather hire someone who can give an estimate up front and follow a contract, with no family ties at the end of the day.

Submitted by: Couch Potato

Lesson Learned:
Ah yes, the ol “Saving money by getting family or friends to help” debacle. It’s a harsh and straining lesson to learn, but as I mentioned in another post about relationships affected by money, contracts keep “Friends as Friends” and “Family as Family”. It sounds as if Couch Potato is a kind enough person to not let this come between them as family, but no doubt it still put a “behind the scenes” strain on that relationship.

Even with a contract, if a family member does not live up to the contract there is at least some physical proof that they were supposed to, and any fall-out from it would not be on your shoulders.

Amount Flushed Down the Money Drain: $2500

About Crystal Groves, Google+

Crystal Groves is a farmer, web developer, musician, blogger, and personal finance enthusiast from the back hills of Maryland and Pennsylvania. She started Money Drain as a project to encourage people interested in fixing their financial situation to share their stories and learn from the stories of others. We all make mistakes, but in order to change we have to make changes.

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One Response to Money Drain: Contracts with Friends are Necessary

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