Whether you’re looking to build your dream kitchen or upgrade your roof, for most of us the only way to get from here to there is with a little help.
Enter the contractor.
Your contractor will help you outline your project and determine how to complete the job to your satisfaction. This relationship relies a lot on trust so unless you have an existing relationship with the individual, it can take a little legwork to find someone with whom you are comfortable.
New to hiring a contractor? We step you through the process here.
You did it! You’ve found a contractor who suits your needs and is ready to work. That’s a great start, but your work is not done yet – on to the contract.
Some of the biggest sources of conflict during the job can stem from what was or wasn’t stated in the contract. Through no fault of either party, if it is not clear what is included, you and your contractor may have a different understanding of what will be completed as part of the job.
I’ll give you an example from our kitchen remodel, I thought attaching the hardware to the cabinets was part of the cabinet install, my contractor did not. After reviewing the signed contract this was not stated as part of the process. So we had to install the hardware ourselves or pay an additional expense.
A good rule of thumb, if it is not stated in the contract assume it is not included.
The Most Important Part of the Contract Process
Which brings us to the most important part of the contract process. Before signing a contract, read it — all of it, every word. You’d be amazed at how many people skim the high level bullets (See how I put this under a bold header, in case you were skimming this article?) than turn to the back page for that final number.
If the wording is confusing or there is something you don’t understand, speak up now. If something you want completed is not listed in the contract, ask about it before you put pen to paper.
8 Questions Every Contract Should Answer:
Who’s doing the job?
A contractor may hire subcontractors to do the actual work instead of using their own installers. This isn’t a bad thing, and doesn’t necessarily mean the contractor is trying to trick you. The contractor may have a long-standing relationship with the subcontractor and trust his or her work. If your contractor uses outside help, just make sure the person you hired is closely managing the project.
- Are permit costs included?
Who obtains the permits? Have inspections been planned? What about provisions for posting zoning notices?
- Is it clear what products the contractor will use?
Is the specific material (including the name of product and color) listed in the contract? Is there reference to the manufacturer’s warranty? And does the contract confirm the team will install products according to the manufacturer’s instructions?
- When will the project be finished?
Thanks to Mother Nature, strict start and stop dates are often difficult to determine, but you can negotiate a “no-later-than” clause (required by some states), and enforce it. You can also reward the contractor for finishing early.
- Do you have the right-to-rescind?
Usually, you will have three days to cancel a contract without penalty.
- What are the workmanship warranty terms?
This should be clearly stated in the contract.
- Who cleans up?
No one wants a messy project. Does the contract require daily cleanup of the site? Picking up trash, even if the wind blows it onto the neighbor’s yard, is part of jobsite cleanup. You can also include clauses about dress code and music volume.
- Was that there?
Before construction begins, walk around the job site with the contractor to establish a condition of the place. In some cases damages may be unavoidable but agree on what is and is not reasonable.
A contractor is here to help you get to your desired outcome. Don’t feel bothersome pouring over the details of the contract or asking a lot of questions, both parties are happier when you start and end the project on the same page.