Evaluating a Remodeling Contract

From on February 07, 2007 in Kitchen Remodel

Contracts & Changes
Remodeling contracts and paperwork don’t need to be a mystery. All you need is a little patience and common sense combined with some basic knowledge.
The information below is meant to assist you in dealing with your contractor; it is not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.

Contracts: The most critical step in any remodeling project is developing and obtaining a clear contract. This is the one item that holds the job together and ensures that all parties involved agree to the same vision and
scope for the project.

You should be aware of all the details in your remodeling contract before you sign. Here are some key points you should look for:

  • Be sure the contract includes the contractor’s name, address, telephone and license number (if applicable).
  • The contractor should outline exactly what work will and will not be included in the contract price.
  • Job-site practices and expectations should be clearly defined—such as protection of personal property surrounding the job site, and daily cleanup or cleanup upon completion of the job. (Since clean up is an additional labor cost for the contractor, it may slightly raise the cost of the job, but it is often well worth the price).
  • All materials should be specified. The contractor should include a detailed list of all materials for the project in the contract, including size, color, model, brand name and product.
  • The contract should include the approximate start date and predicted dates for completion of each major portion of the project.
  • You should study all required plans carefully before you approve them. Your contract should require your signature on all plans before work begins.
  • Federal law requires a contractor to give homeowners written notice of their right to, without penalty, cancel a contract within three business days of signing it, provided it was solicited at some place other that the contractor’s place of business or appropriate trade premises-the homeowner’s residence, for instance. This is your Right of Revision.
  • Make sure the financial terms are spelled out in the contract and that you understand them. The total price, payment schedule and any cancellation penalty should be clear.
  • A warranty covering materials and workmanship for a minimum of one year should be written into the contract. The warranty must be identified as either “full” or “limited.”
  • A binding arbitration clause is also a good inclusion in the event a disagreement occurs. Arbitration enables both parties to resolve disputes more quickly and effectively without costly litigation.
  • Request a contractor’s Affidavit of Final Release be provided to you at the time you make final payment, or obtain final lien waivers from all subcontractors and suppliers. These are your assurances that you will not be liable for any third-party claims for nonpayment of materials or subcontractors.
  • Never sign an incomplete contract and always be sure to keep a copy of the final document, including signatures, for your records.

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