The power to create a contract by acceptance of an offer terminates at the time specified in the offer, or, if no time is specified, at the end of a reasonable time. What is a reasonable time is a question of fact depending on the nature of the contract proposed, the usages of business and other circumstances of the case which the offeree at the time of his acceptance either knows or has reason to know.
Plaintiff company alleged that defendant homeowners' breached a contract to re-roof the homeowners' residence. The homeowners alleged that there was no formal acceptance and the trial court ruled that there was no breach of contract. On appeal, the court reversed and awarded damages. The court held that there was an offer and an acceptance of the contract by the company. The ability to withdraw the offer was terminated at the time of acceptance. The court noted that there was no time limit specified in the contract within which it was to be accepted or within which the work was to be begun. Because the contract did not specify the time within which it was to be accepted or within which the work was to have been commenced, a reasonable time must be allowed therefor in accordance with the facts and circumstances and the evident intention of the parties. What was a reasonable time depended more or less upon the circumstances surrounding each particular case. The court found that the delays to process the homeowners' application were not unusual. The court reversed the judgment finding the homeowners did not breach the contract. Damages were awarded in the company's favor.
Did plaintiff formally accept the contract?
The contract was accepted by plaintiff by the commencement of the performance of the work contracted to be done. This commencement began with the loading of the trucks with the necessary materials in Shreveport and transporting such materials and the workmen to defendants' residence. Actual commencement or performance of the work therefore began before any notice of dissent by defendants was given plaintiff. The proposition and its acceptance thus became a completed contract.