The Written Contract
Contract requirements vary by state. Even if your state does not require a written agreement, ask for one. A contract spells out the who, what, where, when and cost of your project. The agreement should be clear, concise and complete. Before you sign a contract, make sure it contains:
- The contractor’s name, address, phone, and license number, if required.
- The payment schedule for the contractor, subcontractors and suppliers.
- An estimated start and completion date.
- The contractor’s obligation to obtain all necessary permits.
- How change orders will be handled. A change order – common on most remodeling jobs – is a written authorization to the contractor to make a change or addition to the work described in the original contract. It could affect the project’s cost and schedule. Remodelers often require payment for change orders before work begins.
- A detailed list of all materials including color, model, size, brand name, and product.
- Warranties covering materials and workmanship. The names and addresses of the parties honoring the warranties – contractor, distributor or manufacturer – must be identified. The length of the warranty period and any limitations also should be spelled out.
- What the contractor will and will not do. For example, is site clean-up and trash hauling included in the price? Ask for a “broom clause.” It makes the contractor responsible for all clean-up work, including spills and stains.
- Oral promises also should be added to the written contract.