What terms are essential for binding construction contracts?
For a contract to be binding, the form does not matter, the content does. There are three fundamental steps in contract formation – an offer, acceptance of that offer and some form of consideration, which can be as simple as mutual promises to perform. There must be a meeting of the minds, so if an offer is extended and the other party responds accepting the concept of the offer, but suggesting revisions, the response is not an acceptance, it is a counteroffer, which must then be accepted.
Until the parties are clear on the terms (and the terms can be verbal), there can be a defense of mutual mistake – each thought they were comparing apples to apples, but were actually comparing apples to oranges. This is one reason a signed written contract is generally preferable.
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