Am I liable after signing a proposal for a contractor to do work at my home?

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Am I liable after signing a proposal for a contractor to do work at my home?

I acquired several estimates to have my chimney replaced. I signed a proposal on 6/22/09 for $900.00. Later that same night another contractor came and quoted me $650.00 for the same job. I called the first man and asked him if he would “match” the 2nd man’s price. He said he would do it for $750.00. Am I liable to the first man to have to have him do the work? 

Asked on June 25, 2009 under Business Law, New York

Answers:

Nicholas Ponzini / Ponzini & Ponzini, LLP

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Questions relating to contracts are difficult to answer without actually reading the contract at issue.  Here you have a "proposal" for work to be performed on your home.  While a contract does not need to be in writing to be enforceable, a contract, whether written or not, must have certain elements to be enforceable.

While we cannot determine if your proposal is in fact a binding contract, there is a general consideration taken into account.  Namely, if he has already started to perform the work on your home, or order the appropriate materials in order to start.  If he has not, generally speaking, he would not have any damages that he would be able to claim against you even if the contract were binding. 

Obviously, if you already provided him with a deposit, then he has leverage against you since you would need to fight to get your money back.

If you have yet to provide him with any payment and he has yet to perform any work or order materials, then neither of you have performed any part of the contract.

While I cannot say that you arent liable to he first contractor, if he hasnt started the job, then it wouldbe difficult for him to justify any damages against you.

This answer is of general application and may not apply to your particular situation since all the facts of the contract and the contract itself was not analyzed, so please seek appropriate guidance for your particular scenario.


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