What are my contractual obligations regarding a verbal agreement?

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What are my contractual obligations regarding a verbal agreement?

I was recently approached at my home by a contractor that told me my roof should be replaced due to hail damage from a previous hail storm a month ago. I signed an “inspection” report that has an agreement portion stating that I would agree to let them do the work if I received an insurance settlement to pay for it. since then he (the contractor) he repeatedly given me erroneous verbal instructions to not let my mortgage company sign off. He also wants all the money up front to do the work. I certainly do not intend to give him all the money before any work is done. Am I contractually obligated to have him do the work or can I get another contractor to do the work? The contractor doesn’t know I have the check.

Asked on May 31, 2013 under Business Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you signed "a report that has an agreement portion stating that I would agree to let them do the work," then it seems you have a written agreement, not an oral one. ("Oral" is the more accurate term for what people tend to call "verbal.")

However, in either event, an agreement like the one you describe, whether written or oral, is enforceable, unless it was procured (obtained) by fraud (a deliberate lie), by mutual mistake (both parties misunderstood what was being agreed to), or duress (illegal threats or pressure); or was to do an illegal thing; or unless one party materially breached (violated) its obligations under the agreement, which could let the other party of its reciprocal obligations. Therefore, if the contractor did not lie *about the agreement* before you signed, to get you to sign, and has honored his obligations contained in the agreement, you would seem to have to honor your own obligation and let him do the work. That said, if the amount at stake is significant, it would be wortwhile consulting with an attorney about the situation in detail before deciding what to do.


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