Webster, NY asked in Civil Litigation for New York

Q: I signed a contract with a contractor and gave deposit for an addition to be put on our house on May 13.

The contract states “ job can start in 8-10 weeks”.

That will be this Saturday. I’ve unfortunately had minimal contact with him because he’s not returning my phone calls. Can i legally get out of the contract if nothing starts by Saturday?


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2 Lawyer Answers
Aubrey Claudius Galloway
Aubrey Claudius Galloway
  • Scarsdale, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: Well, first off, just because Something is written doesn’t necessarily make it by then… In fact, in most cases oral contracts are just as legally binding as written ones. In both cases, however, if a “material term of the contract” is breached, and no harm will be bestowed if the contract is void, then either party can pull out of the contract… That is, unless, there is a clause in the contract saying that you cannot do so. Before you bring an action in contract, however, you need to show that you attempted to resolve the matter in good faith. As such, I would write a letter to the contractor and send it certified mail return receipt requested to his office. The letter should state that You have been advised by an attorney that you were able to void the contract and wish to do so. The law in New York state is that in that situation things will go, essentially, back to the way they were the day before both parties entered the contract.

If he refuses to void the contract then you can sue him for breach of contract, however, you are not going to make any additional money out of it as, just as if he acted in good faith, the court will put things back the way they were the day before the contract was entered into.

So basically, tell him you want deposit back in writing and be able to prove you wanted to resolve it in good faith PRIOR to initiating legal proceedings ( which by the way, he will have to pay your attorneys fees for if he failed to act in good faith… That is one of the reasons I advise all to send such a letter).

If you have any questions feel free to call me at 914-912-1555. Our firm does offer untethered legal services ( meaning you can hire us to do whatever for 180 bucks an hour with no obligation beyond) and could negotiate you out of the contract for about 50 bucks… Try yourself though first; feel free to call if you want some pointers or if you would like me to void this contract for you.

Until then I’ll remain,

Truly Yours,

Aubrey C Galloway III, Esq


Michael David Siegel
Michael David Siegel
  • New York, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: Yes. But expect to have to sue to get back the deposit.

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