Q: We gave a deposit to a pool contractor in April, still "working on permits", do I have any rights here to get money back
Signed contract in April, gave 25% deposit, nothing has yet to be done, they have failed 2 categories of permit application, and still no real updates as to when they will get approval and be able to start? At what point do I have rights here to cancel and get my money back? Or will this forever fall under "the parts a contractor isn't responsible for" and therefore be subject to their written cancellation policy which is 15% of total contract?
To obtain a reliable opinion, you must schedule a consultation with an attorney who will review the contract.
The problem that you write about, a contractor dragging its feet, is very common. Generally, a contractor's failure to meet a predicted project completion date is not considered to be a breach of contract on their part UNLESS the contract has language that makes the date a material part of the bargain (meaning you would not have entered into the deal without the date guarantee). We lawyers like to use the phrase, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE, to make the deadline a big deal, but other language that stresses the utmost importance of that deadline would also work. Therefore, one option is to ask the contractor to NOW agree, in a signed writing, to a hard deadline for completion, and specify in the writing that time is of the essence. Yet another option, of course, is to ask the contractor if they would agree to cancel and waive the cancellation fee (in writing) due to your extreme dissatisfaction. The contractor may not agree to any of that, in which case see an attorney in your area.
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