How difficult is it to get out of a home building contract if materials have already been ordered for the job?

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How difficult is it to get out of a home building contract if materials have already been ordered for the job?

My mother hired a home contractor who has turned out to be less than professional. We have had numerous problems that he just dodges and now she wants to stop construction on the project. She has only paid the $1000 deposit thus far, but demolition and concrete have been completed, which she is willing to pay. She is just wondering if she would have to pay for all the materials that have already been ordered if she decides to back out of the project now. Is there a way for her to get out of this contract with only paying for the work that has been completed?

Asked on August 8, 2011 Minnesota


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Your mother first needs to read carefully the written contract that she has with the contractor as to its scope and terms in that it sets forth her obligations to the contractor and vice versa unless state law controls.

Although your question states that the contractor has been less than professional, you do not state what he or she has done for this opinion.

Work for the improvement has been started. Apparently the contractor is not behind schedule on this project.

If your mother does not like this contractor now for whatever reasons, she cannot end the contract without having to pay the contractor his or her estimated net profit for the project. If the contractor has breached the agreement and the breach is a material breach, then that is a different issue altogether.

If your mother decides to back out of the contract just because she no longer likes the contractor, she will have to pay for the materials and the net profit that the contractor would have received on the project.

The only way to get out of the contract with only paying for the materials is if the contractor is willing to do so and he or she signs a written agreement to this effect.

Good luck.


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