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Question DetailsAsked on 6/19/2015

I signed a work authorization with a contractor. Can I get out of it?

I signed an estimate for hard wood flooring repair and refinish. The estimate says that "By signing, I am making a promise to pay at agreed times and conditions...not times or conditions were listed" After my husband read the estimate, it did not specify items that I thought were covered. He emailed several questions to the contractor and spoke with him on the phone. The work I thought I agreed to was not included in the estimate. And my husband didn't like the dealing with the guy. I postponed the work for a week, then cancelled it. The contractor sent some aggressive emails to received payment by "whatever means necessary", sent us blank invoice (not itemized) for a work cancellation fee (not specified in the estimate) and we were contacted by a company that serves preliminary liens for contractors. Am I liable to pay him $900?

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I guess you realize signing it before it included everything you wanted and before your spouse agreed to it (assuming jointly owned house) was a mistake.

If it lacks the basic elements of a contract, then it is not a contract - needs descriptyion of location of work, contract price, when work is to be done, scope of work at a minimum.

On the contract cancellation fee - check the back of the estimate form - usually covered in fine print that includes items like cancellation fees.

Invoice for cancellation fee would not have to be itemized, if it said cancellation fee on it - there was no "work" to itemize.

Not knowing when you signed this - if less than 3 days ago and estimate was given and signed at your house, under federal law you have (using a specific cancellation procedure) the right to cancel the agreement - google this search phrase - federal home improvement contract 3 day cancellation rights. Some states have similar laws, sometimes more liberal. Oops - I see you postponed for a week then cancelled, so probably well past the "second-thought" cancellation timeframe.

Unfortunately, because a lien prefile notification has been given, which is a legal notice in most states, that means you are looking at a lien being filed within a week or two. I would talk to an attorney ASAP, who will probably send a certified return receipt letter to the contractor calling out the fact that not only does the "contract" not include certain basic elements of a contract so is not a valid contract, but that there was no "meeting of the minds" - agreement on what the scope of work for the contract was, that the cancellation fee was not spelled out in the contract so would be invalid anyway, and demanding the lien prenotice be cancelled. He might also recommend getting a court injunction against a lien being filed.

Do NOT ignore a lien - while it has no direct effect on the home title until it comes time to sell the house, he can file with a court for foreclosure based on it, its filing affects your credit rating as a default, can result in your mortgage holder accelerating your mortgage and demanding immmediate payment, and it can result in mutual default provisions kicking in on things like car loans, credit cards, student loans, etc. Can totally destroy your credit rating and financial picture in short order, depending on state and how reported and what your other credit agreements/contracts say.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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