If I started a bathroom remodel job for someone and there were some issues I couldn’t resolve, am I required to give the deposit back?

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If I started a bathroom remodel job for someone and there were some issues I couldn’t resolve, am I required to give the deposit back?

There were some issues I couldn’t do myself so he decided to have someone else do the job after paying me a deposit and having me do some of the work.

Asked on February 11, 2012 under Business Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you could not do the work agreed to, you breached the contract, entitling the homeowner to terminate it.

However, if you did a portion of the work (and the work was good--e.g. to spec, didn't need to be torn out or redone, etc.), then you would be entitled to compensation for the portion of the work you did. So, for example, say it was a $10k job, with a $2k deposit; you did $6k worth of work; you would theoretically be entitled to keep the deposit and also get anothe $4k.

Obviously, it can be very difficult and contentious to value partial work. Therefore, even if you believe you are entitled to compensation, it is probably in your interest to be flexible about how much you seek, in order to avoid the expense of litigation.

And if you only completed a small fraction of the work before running into problems, you may wish to consider returning the deposit to avoid the expense and time of court.


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