Contractor Agreements: The Right Way to Get it in Writing

Mar 06, 2012 No Comments by

When it comes to signing a written agreement with a contractor, the bottom line is who does the document protect—you or him? Obviously, you want the former.

This is how to help make sure it goes down that way:

First, don’t accept a boilerplate agreement that the contractor may want to give you when you ask for something in writing. These contracts may seem straightforward and simple to understand, but they often omit important protections for the homeowner like itemized costs, product quality and what happens in the event of property damage.

In most situations, you should be the one to provide the contract. The American Institute of Architects at is one great resource to go to for this. The AIA has a contract template that has been developed over many years through the department of “lessons learned” by homeowners and contractors. Some customization may be necessary to address local laws, but otherwise it is a very thorough agreement.

If you are willing to spring for the money, you can also choose to hire a lawyer to draft an agreement for you. This is an expensive option and may only be practical for a large project, but it will address any and all concerns you may have.

At minimum, any legal agreement between a homeowner and contractor should include: 1) a clause that permits cancellation within 72 hours of signing; 2) the total cost of the project with a breakdown of all labor and materials charges; 3) a one-year guarantee of the workmanship; 4) approximate date of completion; 5) a plan to settle potential disputes; and 6) a release of lien clause, which will protect you if the contractor uses subcontractors and fails to pay them.

Above all, in terms of a contract, don’t be afraid to look out for your own interests– because no one else can do that better than you.

Contractor, Home Improvement, Home Services

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