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Question DetailsAsked on 4/3/2018

I paid $2000 in advance for my bathroom remodeling now I have to cancel it but the contractor is refusing to return

I paid $2000 in advance for my bathroom remodeling to "park avenue Remodeling" 4 weeks ago. I cancelled it last week because of some circumstances but the contractor is refusing to return my money. The contractor is listed in Angieslist and Homeadvisor too. They did not bring any materials or even submitted any papers to the township but they are telling that they bought materials and prepared papers for that I need to pay him. Should I hire a lawyer or can Angiselist can take some actions?

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2 Answers


I am going to assume this was a termination for convenience on your part - in other words, the contract could have been physically performed by him but you cancelled because you chose to for some reason, not because the contract was no longer capable of being performed.

Legal "outs" you might have would be things like him not having legally required licensing or bonding / insurance or such, house burned down so there is no bathroom to remodel, government action preventing the work, contract not a legal contract or is legally unilaterally voidable by you, cancelling within a legal 3 (or however many for your locale) day cancellation window, actions or concealed facts by the contractor which gave you good cause to cancel, major "acts of nature" which damaged the property such that it now need a major structural remodel not just bathroom, etc.

Things you might cancel for which would typically constitute a "termination for owner's convenience" would be your plans changed, could not get financing (unless contract was stated as being dependent on getting that), getting divorced so remodel is scratched, going to jail, sudden financial straits, etc.

In-between things that a court might rule either way on might include government agency refusal of a permit due to zoning or environmental reasons or condo or homeowner's association rejection of plans (though commonly those sort of approvals should be done before signing a contract for the work), being transferred out of town by your employer, being called up by the military unexpectedly, unexpected major medical expenses making you unable to pay for the job, etc.

Check first if there are any terms in the contract or on any quote sheet he provided which you signed to agree to the work (if you do not have formal signed contract, commonly on back of quote sheet to convert it to a contract once signed and dated). If it does not provide specific amount or % or quote that is a non-refundable deposit, he cannot keep it - though he is entitled to reasonable compensation for any work he did for the benefit of the job or in preparation for the job other than the bid preparation (though in some jurisdictions, a court or arbitrator will allow him that if you cancel through no fault of his own.)

If he is claiming materials purchased, assuming they were proper and necessary to the job, he would be entitled to fair compensation for buying and delivering them to you, or - if you so stipulate - for the purchasing and return effort/labor/transportation plus any return charge for returnable items. What overhead or lost profit he is entitled to would be dependent on the contract and law in that jurisdiction, and anyting the cvontract says about liquidated damages or lost profits or such. Of course, he would have to provide proof of any costs and manhours and such to be reimbursed for them unless the contract specifies a specific amount (or % of contract which can be unequivably converted to $) in the event you cancel.

Also, generally but not universally, the contract provision is generally held to be valid only if there is a fair and equitable compensation to you in the event he cancels or fails to complete the job per contract too - it cannot be one-sided.

Could be, as he said, he prepared and put in purchase orders for the materials and prepared paperwork for permits and such whether or not the materials have been delivered yet (especially with long-lead items) and may not have filed for permits yet. Be aware if you are cancelling the job for sure, to give him written notification of it and instruct him to provide you with cancellation/return options on the materials - some may not be cancellable (like special orders already in manufacturing/shipping), some may have a pretty hefty return charge so you might prefer to just receive them, others may be returnable with 0%-10% restocking fee, for example.

Also, bear in mind if you are cancelling for cause - failulre on his part - you might also have the option of calling his bond to enforce the contract using another contractor, if so desired.

Generally, if you are trying to cancel an existing signed contract, you need an attorney to guide you through it - and be sure you get a signed and dated contract cancellation or amendment showing the new limits of the contract or payments for materials and prep time and such, and also lien releases from any significant materials suppliers and also from the contractor and any subcontractors which were engaged by him, so no one can come back to you later for expenses they incurred and the contractor did not pay for.

As for Angies List helping - if you are a full payment member (Platinum I think it is called now) you may have recourse, if you have good cause for the cancellation, through their dispute resolution service - but bear in mind that may have provisions which are not advantageous for you, including possibly mandatory arbitration.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD



Thank you for reaching out. Angie's List does offer a Dispute Resolution Process to our Gold level members. For further details, please contact our Care Specailist via the chat portal in the support center of our site.


Iann M

Answered 2 years ago by Member Services

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