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Jack R.
Jack R., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 6147
Experience:  Court Mediator, foreclosure attorney
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I have verbally asked a contractor to renovate my property.

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I have verbally asked a contractor to renovate my property. Three months ago I signed a permit agreement to have the renovation permit in his name. He has nothing else in writing from me.
Since then he has been renovating another property for me and has given me tremendous stress - not showing up and delaying finishing the project for weeks, it is still not finished. His work is unskilled and has resulted in uneven cabinets etc.
He promised that he would begin renovations on this second condo last week and said it was "permitted" and he was all set to go with all the tradesmen lined up.
He informed me today that he still does not have the permit as it has been rejected - said he re-submitted this yesterday. He also said he does not have a painter in mind and that it would be at least a week before a plasterer could go in.
I am most anxious to have this work completed as soon as possible and he can not give me a guarantee that the permit will be approved. Can I tell him I no longer wish him to
be the contractor without any legal repercusions?

Thank you for choosing JustAnswer. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to assist.


A verbal agreement can be as binding as a written agreement in many cases. In your description it appears the contractor cannot perform because trades are not available and therefore no agreement is possible. In many cases the law will look to see if the contractor relied on your verbal agreement and took a position in support of that agreement e.g. buying materials, giving up other jobs, hiring employees etc. If there was a valid reliance on your verbal agreement a Court could enforce the agreement. Whether the contractor relied on your promise of work will determine if a binding agreement is established. Without reliance it is highly likely no legal obligation exists.


Here it appears that the contractor cannot start the engagement as required. Trades were not contracted for, and permits were not obtained. Since time was a material component of the agreement in that a timely start was required the contractor may have breached any agreement relieving you from any alleged contractual obligation. It also appears that the contractor is not qualified to do the work contracted for. Tis would tend to support a breach of any agreement to satisfactorily complete the work..


Since he cannot complete his work as initially requested the potential for legal repercussions are minimal. Your biggest legal hurdle as described above occurs if the contractor gave up other job opportunities to handle your job, or spent money on preparing for the job. In the facts you presented since he could not proceed on time without a permit this may not be a concern. While I cannot state there will not be legal repercussions, any repercussions would likely be decided in your favor or be of a minimal financial impact.


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Jack R. and 3 other Consumer Protection Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for this very helpful response - just one other question, though , about the permit. The contractor, we have let go, has applied as I mentioned. Will we now have to pay again for another permit for another contractor? Will there be any problems here?

Once a permit has been approved you should be able to get a copy of the permit from the building department. The permit application with the pertinent facts has been completed and if completed properly approved..
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

can the name on the permit be changed or does the new contractor have to re-apply? If the permit has not been approved yet can this be cancelled, hopefully with a refund? many thanks

Your new contractor should have the name changed. The permit can also carry your name. Permits are related to the work involved, and to provide notice to the city/county that work is being done which may require inspections.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Dear Jack,


Thank you so much. Ella

you are very welcome. Pleas ask for me if you have future questions.