Between managing work and managing family life, it can be difficult to find the time to make home improvements. Trying to update your child’s room on your own, for example, may be taking longer than you think so you’ve decided to hire a professional contractor to complete the task. Just like any home construction project, the safety of your family and your house are a priority. Protecting your investment and ensuring quality work requires a contractual agreement with a contractor.
After your find the right professional, such as an interior designer or contractor, he or she will have a contract for you to go over and sign. Not all contractors have a pre-written contract; in that case you will need to develop one yourself or hire an attorney to help you through the process.
What is a contract?
A contract is a legal document that binds you and the contractor to an agreement. The elements of a contract detail both the offer and the acceptance that each party must abide to. A contract will protect the homeowner if any problems, mishaps or disagreements were to occur, and it also protects the professional should the homeowner decide not to pay for services rendered. After both parties sign the agreement, the contract can be used to refer back to.
What does a contract contain?
A contract can be complex depending on how large your remodel will be. It’s important to make sure you include any detail regarding service, goods and payment. A contract may state the start and end date of a project, financial agreements and what work is to be done. Certain stipulations entail emergencies, weather delays or what happens if a project cannot be completed.
Other items to include in a contract are:
- The contractor’s full business name and employee contact information
- The complete extent of the project work and performance (e.g., who, what, when, where)
- Description of all materials used in detail (for example, “bedroom custom cabinetry installation, manufactured by ABC, model #12345, color XYZ”)
- Payment schedule regarding all expectations with amounts
- Proof of license, bonding and insurance by contractor
- Scope of project and estimated timeline
- Architectural drawings set to scale (if applicable)
- Disclosure of liabilities if damages occur
- Refund policy and guarantee of work
- Necessary warranty information
- Permitting information
- Instructions regarding cleanup of debris and leftover materials
Specifically for a kid’s bedroom remodel, you will want to be aware of any hazards that could be included in the construction such as toxins, electrical wiring or any non-child-proof items. Ask your contractor about the materials that will be used. Lead-safe certified paint is suggested when it comes to your kid’s health. Bedroom windows should be sized to the current building code standards and you may want to request special safety locks for windows and no-cord blinds.
Where can I get a contract?
If your contractor does not have a contract for you, there are a few options for obtaining one. The first is through an attorney. An attorney can draft a specific contract that outlines all of the details of the kid’s room remodeling project to take place in your home.The second option is at an office supply store. There are pre-made contracts available that you can use to fill in pertinent information regarding the specifics of the remodel.Thirdly, you may search for one online. These contracts can be edited online and printed for signatures and dates. You can customize these contracts to include the details of the remodeling project.Lastly, you can construct a contract yourself outlining all of the details of the project, provisions for the workers and the financial details. It is best to try to view several contracts so that it is properly worded and formatted.
Why should I sign a contract?
There are several benefits to having a contract. The main benefit is having all information regarding completion of project and financial payments written down, which will help you stay on budget. You can also customize disclaimers so that you can let contractors go when the work is not being completed. If things were to get sticky and problematic, having a legally binding agreement will let an attorney take over and have the issue resolved in court. With a contract, the specific standards of your project are made clear enabling you to have more control and have confidence that your preconditioned terms will be followed through with the utmost quality.
The negatives are that, in some cases, a contract protects the contractor more than the homeowner. It is best to insert clauses that protect both parties equally while being carefully laid out in detail. Any items that are important, such as the return of funds for incomplete work or docking pay for tardiness should be included. Otherwise, this can lead to a loss of funds for the homeowner.
Can I make changes after signing?
Legally, you can’t get out of a contract just because you have changed your mind or don’t like the work that has been done. Including loopholes or clauses that enable you to either void or change your contract is crucial. Changes can be made to a contract by composing an amendment. It is ideal to have the amendment notarized to solidify the details of the changes. Sometimes, the only way you can retrieve lost funds from a poor quality worker is with a contract. So make sure a contract is always in place before any funds are exchanged. A breach of contract (failure to honor the binding agreement by one or more parties) can be tough to get out of and at times difficult to understand. Consult an attorney before going through with any changes or if you believe your contract is being violated.
Top Image Credit: Witt Construction