With millions of Americans continuing to work from home and with home sales at an all-time high, many have begun considering home remodels or additional construction projects around the house. However, remodels rarely go as planned, with many consumers facing issues with contractors throughout a project. From uncompleted work to work done incorrectly, many issues can arise when you begin working with a contractor for a specific project.
Here, we break down some important aspects of a contract for any contract-related work for home renovations.
1) A Full Description of the Project
To ensure the work is done correctly, consumers should ensure that their contract includes a thorough outline of all the work, materials, labor, and other aspects that will go into the job. This can range from what should be constructed and demolished, the costs of materials, and the acquisition of any permits that may be required. Many homeowners will fail to consider what happens after a project is completed and should be sure to outline what will happen to any leftover materials and debris after a project is completed.
A project description can also include any supporting documentation, including any renderings, blueprints, an electrical and/or plumbing plan, and any other information made available to you.
2) Payment Intervals
Besides including the total cost associated with the project, your contract with your contractor should outline the timing of payments based on certain milestones. Homeowners and others looking to hire a contractor should never pay for a project fully in advance, as a contractor may become discouraged from completing the project as required.
For instance, you may offer to make a payment once the initial demolition is complete, another payment once certain electrical or plumbing work is completed, and another payment after the construction work is permitted by any local authorities.
3) The Contractor’s License and Insurance Information
Contractors with a valid license must display their license number on any promotional materials or vehicles with the company’s or contractor’s name on it. Any communication between a contractor and a homeowner should also have the contractor’s license information visible, including estimates, proposals, contracts, and more.
4) Protecting Yourself with Lien Waivers
A contractor will “subcontract” a large portion of the work to other workers who may have a certain skill set (such as stucco or drywall). However, a subcontractor may claim that he/she was never paid for any work by the contractor, allowing them to place a lien on the property. To protect yourself, in the contract, detail how the contractor must provide you with a “lien waiver”. A lien waiver can be described as a signed statement indicating that the contractor paid any other workers using the funds given to him/her in the previous invoice.
5) Changes to the Project
Ensure that in the contract you outline that no changes to the original plans can be done unless a clear description of the new work has been provided and signed by you, including the cost and impact on the project timeline. If changes are made verbally, write your contractor an email detailing the changes and ask them to respond with an email from a company email address confirming the changes.
6) Approximate Dates
An approximate start and end date for a project is an essential aspect of a contract. This will ensure that both you and the contractor have an idea of when work will begin and approximately when it may end. Weather and large plan changes may have an impact on the start and end date of a project.
7) An Attorney’s Fees Clause
Unfortunately, litigation is not uncommon when contractors and homeowners have disputes. It is essential that a clause in the contract states that if a contractor is found to be in breach of the agreement or contract in court, that they would be held responsible for any legal fees associated with the case.
8) A Means of Escaping
In some states, consumers may be able to rescind a contract without penalty within a certain number of days. If you are not in one of those states, you should consider writing in a clause allowing you to rescind the contract without penalty within a certain timeframe (typically three days).
Home remodels can be both exciting yet highly stressful. If your contractor failed to properly complete your project, or if you are having other issues with a contractor or subcontractor, the team at Dishowitz Law can help. Our team of attorneys has the experience necessary to hold negligent contractors accountable. To learn more, contact us using the form on our website or give us a call at (833) 918-3310.