Tips on Contracts

How often have you done remodelling or renovation jobs at your home or office based on a verbal contract with your contractor? In those situations, how often have you also had a minor or major dispute about the work with your contractor? Although written contracts were rare in the past in this trade, more and more people now are depending on written contracts for renovation jobs. This way, everything is written in black and white and you avoid the lengthy process of disputes.  

However, there are instances when a written contract is simply not practical. For these jobs, it's important that everyone is clear on what work will be carried out, how much it's going to cost and what will happen if things go wrong. The discussion you conduct and the mutual agreement with your contractor generally constitutes a contract.  

Written contracts start to become viable when a project is complex, has staged payments, or is of significant cost. Whenever in doubt, use a written contract, which you can write yourself in simple English.  

The terms of the contract make up for the most important part of the contract. Here are some tips for you to look at when you are drawing up a written contract. These are the most important aspects, though there can be more things you may want added.  

1. A detailed description of the work.
This is where you get to be as specific as possible about the work that you want. If you have asked your contractor to change the bulbs of your lights, be sure to agree upon and specify a brand of bulbs. If you don’t, your contractor has the right to use what he wishes and you can’t do much if he uses a sub-standard brand. For every aspect of the job, be sure to pen all the details.  

2. Cost.
This is a very obvious point which leads to problems if not agreed upon. Make sure that you write down the cost of everything against its description. You will avoid a lot of disputes in this way. It also becomes easy for you and your contractor in the case when you change your mind about something. All you have to do then is to find this item and alter the price.  

3. Terms of payment.
From the start, it is best to agree on the amount to be paid, the due dates of the payment and who is going to bear the cost of materials. Deposits should also be discussed and noted down. Payment disputes are most common and can lead to work being stopped.  

4. Responsibilities.
There are some other responsibilities that you should discuss with your contractor and write down in the contract too. If you are not living on the premises that are being renovated, you may need someone to take care of the property after the workmen leave for the day. Is your contractor providing this person? If you are living on the premises, you may want the place cleaned up at the end of every work day. Discuss these details with your contractor. Agreeing on details this like will go a long way in avoiding future problems once the work begins.  

5. Guarantees.
Always discuss this important detail with your contractor. How long is the guarantee period for work defects on your property? Some contractors provide a six months guarantee, some provide a longer one. Mutually work out a period of time that suits both of you.  

Working on a project like a home makeover or renovation consists of many areas and details. Having a detailed contract helps in resolving unexpected problems that can arise once the work begins.