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Question DetailsAsked on 7/28/2017

Texas - Does the same rule/law apply to both homeowner and contractor?

I agreed to the roofing job because he said he had a higher quality roof material that he purchased at same price of the lesser quality and he could also do the drywall. (I signed on his tablet screen without looking at contract- when he email me copy of contract I noticed the less expensive roof material was listed). Ten days later we met to finalize job details: he said he did not have enough squares of higher quality material, so he asked me to choose a less expensive one. Contractor sent me a text (11 days later): he cannot do the job (roof/drywall) for amount stated on contract: His drywall man gave him a higher estimate than contractor anticipated when he wrote the contract I signed. His Company contract specifies: Customer may cancel within 3 days/no penalty. After 3 days in writing penalties apply: 30% re-stocking fees, etc. After the first text I informed him I trusted him because he was recommended, but Trust factor now is non-existent!

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Laws should apply to everyone, though of course the law's various provisions with respect to contractor and customer differ in respective responsibilities and such as applicable to their differing roles in the contract - but basically each party should get a product (client) or compensation (contractor) appropriate for the work done and fair to both parties. However, in Texas consumer protection laws are virtually non-existent - Texas law seems to sort of go by the philosophy of fend for yourself and just shoot the guy if you don't like the way he does business or he is trying to cheat you.

Signing the contract without reading it - big no-no, as you now know.

Asking you to accept lower quality material gave you an out at that time - you did not have to agree to that if you did not want to, and his refusal to meet the agreed-upon materials (though you do have a problem with the contract not spelling them out originally) would have constituted a contract breach. Note also that the old "have material left over from anopther job" is an ages-old bait and switch scam, so while it is remotely possible he was being honest I doubt it - generally a roofer will only have a few bundles at most left oer, and unopened bundles are almost always returnable by contractors with minimal or zero restocking fee.

Another big red flag - giving you a quote and contract for drywall on an assumed price rather than actually getting a drywall subcontractor sub-bid BEFORE giving you the price.

You have a couple of options - call his Bond to get the job done for the contracted amount (Assuming the contract has an adequately defined scope of work or plans), by another contractor, with the bonding company picking up the cost overrun. Or cancel the contract.

Since you evidently (with good cause) do not trust this guy nor evidetnly do not want him on the job, I would respond back (copying and pasting and referring to the complete content of his text in your response) to his text saying he cannot do the job for the amount the contract specifies, so you agree to HIM cancelling the contract at no net cost to you, and ask that he provide you with a contract amendment cancelling the contract and final invoice, stating no payment is due by or to either party, and refunding any advance payment you made. And do NOT sign/date the cancellation (you should each get an ORIGINAL copy signed by both parties BTW) until you get the FULL refund and an invoice or statement showing the contract is cancelled at zero total charge, and if a deposit was made it should be showing full refund of the deposit to you. (The cancellation and final invoice and refund would normally be signed/exchanged at the same time, in person).

Note I said that you are accepting HIS cancellation subject to zero net payment by you on the job - YOU are not cancelling, hence he cannot claim any cancellation fees from you.

And if he comes back and tries to change to just the roofing part you do NOT have to accept a change of scope to just part of the job - if he cannot do the whole job as contracted you have the right to cancel ALL of it.

And if he objects, note to him (depending on how you feel about this issue) that you can force him to perform to the contract forthe original price or call his Bond, or that (if you feel this is a bait and switch) that you can file a criminal fraud complaint against him - that should get him to just drop the job and give you full cancellation and refund unless he is a total scammer and has no intent to give you the deposit back, in which case I would call the police and file a criminal fraud complaint against him.

One all is said and done, you can also file a complaint with the state licensing board about his apparent bait-and-switch operating mode, and with the consumer protection agency (oh - right, Texas - virtually no licensing required there so probably out of luck on that).

And of course you can do honest Reviews on Angies List and Yelp and such to warn other consumers about this poor business practices if not shady behavior.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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