If you’ve found the right HVAC contractor for your project and are ready to get underway, you may be wondering what will happen if things don’t go according to plan. Will you lose your deposit? Will you be forced to find a new contractor? Will you be left with more problems than you started with? Consider signing a contract with your HVAC contractor, so you know that your project will be completed in a professional, timely fashion.

What does a contract do?

In general, if you’re planning a project that will take more than one day to complete and requires extensive work on the part of a contractor, it’s a good idea to have a contract. A contract is a legally binding document that is created and signed to avoid any miscommunication or misunderstanding between you and your contractor about the project’s parameters. The contract will outline what the project involves, what equipment will be used, how long the project will take to complete, and what to do if any changes need to be made to the contract. If any of the conditions in the contract aren’t met, it can become void. In this case, the contract acts as a form of legal protection for both you and your contractor. It clearly outlines the project, so any disputes can be resolved quickly and easily.

What if I’m not asked to sign a contract?

If your contractor doesn’t present you with a contract, don’t be afraid to ask for one. Your contractor should be able to draw one up quickly, they likely have a standard contract that they use for most projects. It’s in both of your best interests to sign a contract, so your contractor should be willing to do so.

In some states, a contract is legally mandatory for projects valued over a certain dollar amount. Your contractor should know if a contract is necessary for your project, but it won’t hurt to check with a local licensing agency yourself. If you’re questioning whether you need a contract, chances are, you do.

What should be included in a contract?

HVAC contracts are generally standardized. Your HVAC contractor will likely take the standard contract and add information specific to your project. When you receive your HVAC contract, make sure the following components are included before you sign:

  • Contractor’s full business name, contact information, licensing number, and proof of insurance
  • Scope of work outlining what will be done and who will perform the work
  • Written description of any materials that will be used
  • Payment schedule and dates when deposits are due
  • What permits are needed and who will be obtaining them
  • Instructions for daily site cleanup and removal of debris
  • Pricing for any equipment rentals
  • Any applicable warranty information
  • Directions for how to address changes to the contract or canceling the contract

Making changes or cancelling your contract

Changes come up in every aspect of life and your HVAC project is no different. Before your project starts, be prepared to deal with changes. Record any changes that need to be made to your contract in writing. Submit a change order to your contractor, be sure you both sign off on the change, and attach the order to the original contract.

If one or all of the contract signatories violates the terms of the contract, you may need to cancel the contract entirely. To avoid penalties, closely read the fine print of your contract and proceed accordingly. Some states impose a three-day grace period after signing a contract that allows you to cancel without penalty.