Q: We think our builder wants more money for building up the grade to our new house. He told us that the height of the grade in our contract is just an estimate.
But when we asked if we were going to owe any money for building the grade up he said no, but it would cost him more.
A: Your email is a little confusing. You say that your builder wants more money for building up the grade. But then you say that while it costs him more, he wouldn’t charge you. Which is it?
Either way, you’ll have to go back and read your contract. You’ll have to live by the terms of the contract you signed with the builder.
If you’re building the home and have hired the contractor to build you a home, you may be responsible for paying the costs associated with changing the grade. Or, if the contract puts the grade at one level, but you ask to build up the grade 3 feet, then you may be responsible for that cost.
However, if you’ve agreed on a fixed-fee price for the property, as you would if you were buying from a production builder, then you shouldn’t have to pay for a grade change unless it is a significant upgrade.
If the contract provides that you’ll foot the bill for any "unforeseen circumstances" that impede the building of the home, then you may also be liable for paying the grading bill.
For more details about what you are responsible for under the contract, please talk to your real estate attorney.