Suppose a person A is building a new dwelling. In order to receive a certificate of occupancy from my municipality A needs to meet building code requirements - A needs to have a bathroom sink installed, a wall heater installed, and gutters placed on the house to meet these requirements. In all three cases A has provided deposits to the contractor C for the purchase of products or the scheduling of gutters. Both the sink and heater are 'on back order' with no definitive delivery times given. The gutter company has failed to provide a time and date for the gutter installation at all. How long does A have to wait before A can ask for the deposits back and find alternatives for these products and services? Assume that A lives in Washington State in the USA.

1 Answer 1


The agreement between A and C should specify a due date for the job to be completed. If it does not, the standard is that it must be done within a "reasonable time" which depends on the nature of the job and local circumstances (such as supply of labor and materiel).

The gutter company must deliver within the tiem it agreed to, or notify if that tiem cannot be met. If no time was specified in the agreement, US federal law says it must deliver of notify within 30 days, and give a chance to cancel if the original deadline cannot be met. If it is well past the agreed or default time, the customer may notify the supplier to cancel the order, and the supplier must provide a full refund. Similar rules will apply to the other suppliers.

C is not responsible for the delivery problems of the suppliers, unless they work for C, which is unlikely. C is responsible for doing work in a timely fashion once supplies are available, and for giving A a best estimate of the completion fate under the current circumstances.

Any specific dates in the agreement are binding, but will be modified if delays happen due to circumstances not under C's control despite C's best efforts.

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