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I entered into a contract with a contractor to have an

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outdoor kitchen built. Three months...
I entered into a contract with a contractor to have an outdoor kitchen built. Three months have gone by and the contractor has answered only one or two emails -- just enough to give me an excuse. How can I go about nullifying this contract.
Submitted: 1 month ago.Category: Real Estate Law
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Answered in 16 minutes by:
10/16/2017
Real Estate Lawyer: Thomas Swartz, Lawyer replied 1 month ago
Thomas Swartz
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 3,182
Experience: Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
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Hello Customer,

Before canceling the contract you should be careful about what your contract says about canceling, and whether or not there is a start date stated in the contract. If there is a definite start date stated in the contract, and the contractor has not started by that date, this would give you legitimate grounds to cancel the contract because the contractor would be in breach of a material provision of the contract. You should always cancel a contract in writing. So, if there was definite start date, and this was not complied with, you would send written notification to the contractor that the contractor is in breach of the start time, and thus, you are canceling the contract.

If there is no definite start date listed in the contract, the law would presume that the contractor would have a reasonable time to start work. Three months is a long time to start work. Nevertheless, it would be wise in this circumstance to send the contractor a written notice stating that if work does not begin in a reasonable amount of time you would then consider the contractor in breach. This would at least put the contractor on notice that work must begin in a reasonable amount of time.

It is important to document everything and all communication with the contractor so you are on a firmer footing should a dispute wind up in court.

Thomas

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thank you for the advice. I take from this that I should write him a letter informing him that if he has not begun work by xxx date and completed by xxx date, I will consider him in breach of contract and I will therefore hire another contractor.I have to tell you that I signed stupidly. There are no hard dates in this contract and absolutely no protection for me. The contract is very much in his favor.If I sign a contract with another contractor after he ignores my stated start date, how much chance do I have of winning in court. He would, of course have to take me to court, which would cost him money, but if he wins, it's possible he would get $8000 for doing nothing.Are you sure there is no way to simply nullify this contract?
Real Estate Lawyer: Thomas Swartz, Lawyer replied 1 month ago

Yes, to the first part of your response. You should give him some formal notice that if he does not commence work by a certain time you will consider him in breach.

If you give him the formal notification, and there is already a long delay, there is little chance that the contractor would win in a lawsuit. Also, even if he did win, he would have to prove his damages, and since he did no work, damages would be slight to none. He may claim that he lost other work by your canceling, but this would be hard to prove.

"Nullification" of a contract only exists in rare circumstances. A nullification of a contract can occur if you can prove that you were a minor when you signed the contract, if you had some mental illness at the time you signed the contract, or if the contract is one which performs an illegal act. None of these elements are really present in your situation. So, you must cancel the contract upon proper grounds.

Thomas

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Category: Real Estate Law
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Experience: Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.

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