Do a contractor and homeowner both have to sign a proposal in order for it to be binding?

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Do a contractor and homeowner both have to sign a proposal in order for it to be binding?

My contractor did not sign the proposal but I did. There is nothing written on this proposal about cancellation or anything like that. I feel as though he was not honest with me as he assured me he would have the work done by the end of the month and I have to keep calling him and he keeps telling me how busy he is. I told him more than once how important it was that the work be done by the date agreed to. The contract says ” schedule for end of April”. It is printed underneath where it says payment schedule. Also, what is the difference between a contract and a proposal?

Asked on April 28, 2011 under General Practice, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A contract is binding; a proposal is not. A proposal can however become a binding contract, if it is presented to a party (e.g. the homeowner) as an offer (e.g. the contractor is offering to do certain work, in a certain way and/or certain time), for a certain amount) and the homeowner accepts that offer. It's better if both parties sign a contract, but it's not strictly required; if one party makes a clear offer to the other which the other accepts, that creates a contract. In a case like what you describe, if the contractor presented an offer to do work to you, and you indicated your acceptance by signing (and by doing anything else you had to--e.g. paying any required deposit), that may well be enough to form an enforceable contract, one which you can bring legal action over. Good luck.


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