Contract validity

Met with a contractor and I filed a claim on my damaged roof. Signed a contract with him allowing them to assist me and letting them do the work if the claim is approved. Now that the claim was approved, he is saying he left the company and he’s working on his own with his own workers. He also told me in case the original company called me, to let them know I’ve gone with someone else. Am I legally bound to this contract? I’m uncomfortable proceeding now that these events have unfolded. Can I choose to do the work with someone else?

Sounds like you are legally bound to the company the former salesman worked for. They may or may not come after you for fees but most likely not. I would still get a something in writing from them releasing you from the contract before going with someone else.

The vast majority of contracts I see are not legally binding if they were tested in court. And it also depends on what State you are in. Was a statement about the State Law on Right of Rescission included in the contract or as a separate document? In most cases, lack thereof voids the contract. Despite all that, it would depend on how hard the original contractor wants to fight for it. They may just make a few empty threats and walk away. A few may take it to court. The only way to find out is to send them a certified letter stating that you are cancelling the contract. I would avoid stating any reason in case it does come up in court.

I would add that most valid contracts have to have a statement regarding the timing to start work. If this contract doesn’t have it, or they have kind of forgotten about you and let that time period transpire, you have another valid reason to cancel the contract.

Now here’s the other consideration. Does your original Sales Rep’s company/crews have General Liability and Workman’s Comp insurance? Are they properly licensed? You may not want to trust your roof construction to a brand new company and to a new guy who is trying to pilfer the job away from their previous company. You may be best served to wipe the slate clean and select a reputable, proven local contractor to perform the repairs.

Is a proposal/bid usually given before the claim is begun? Because his total is obviously going to match the claim total. He wants the full $20,XXX for 40 squares of architectural shingles.

I’m not an Attorney, so take this for what it is worth. I don’t see that as a legal agreement that would hold up in court. The wording “assist homeowner with insurance claim” could be considered Unauthorized Practice as Public Adjuster in some states, especially Texas or Florida.

Couple of things.
A: do you really want this brand new company doing your roof? You get to be the New Companies Guinea pig ?
B: the company he was working for has paid him to do the estimate on your roof, and now he wants to use that time and money they paid him for, to take the job for himself? You ok with that type of person?
I would tell him “no thanks”, and go with a legit company with a reputation built over more time than it takes a banana to go bad!

This ‘salesperson’ knows what he is doing. He is working both angles and taking advantage of nice homeowners that don’t have much fight in them or do not appear to be one that would challenge him in situations like this. The part of the ‘terms and conditions’ stating the $2500.00 (section 9) appears to support the idea that he has you where he wants you.

But, lets not forget a couple of things here: 1) nowhere does it say you have a time limit to perform the job and 2) your situation qualifies as “change in circumstance”. In the court of law, the judge can clearly see this and would side with you… provided that you can prove the sales person said to you what you claimed he said.

Frankly, your example should also serve as a reminder to many in the context of ‘making sure you are reading what you are signing’. On section 9, and anywhere on any contract, if the verbiage is confusing to you, it is a red flag.

A contract is nothing more and less than an agreement between two parties that puts actionable obligations in writing for reference and is suppose to hold both parties accountable. Sadly, the grey area is so big (i.e. clients not reading, businesses using confusing wording, and both parties just flat out not holding their end of bargain!).

Bottom line to your questions/post, you should not choose to work with anyone else at the moment until you’ve resolved your relationship with the company you’ve contracted with. Otherwise, you will get yourself in more questions and red flag situations while doing things unknowingly.

Ps. You are to report both the said company and ‘salesperson’ to your state’s fraud investigation department AS WELL AS the Insurance Commissioners Office, post your situation on the companies review to warn others, and find yourself an advisory point of contact such as an attorney in case to push for charges against any of two said parties.

Let us know what happens…

In an effort to get clarification (and protection) from their part, I have emails between him and I asking about the initial contract and he writes “No you are not held to the paperwork with ********** roofing. You have nothing to worry about.”

His partner, who was copied on the email writes back “Nothing at all to worry about with ******** roofing. Just tell them you went with another company if they call you.”

I’ve been stalling in an effort to make sure I’m going to be okay if I go with a different trustworthy contractor.

Are you speaking with any one else about this in terms of getting the work done?
After all, it is your house and you need to protect your assets and keep the liability down.
I am curious, whatever happened to the company that you’ve signed with initially?

Equally important, have you taken this to an attorney or even a local judge for their input?

No, I’m not speaking to anyone else or an attorney about the work right now. They charge around $350 an hour, so I’m trying to avoid that for now.

The original company is still in business, haven’t heard from them. He “left” that company to start his own roofing business with some of his partners, but it’s a little odd this wasn’t brought up until the moment my claim was approved and funded.