Five Tips for Crafting a Solid Contract
What is more important to the successful completion of a home improvement project, the contract or the contractor? The answer is both – a well-written contract and a reputable contractor. However, in this blog, we are focusing on the contract. How can you ensure that the contract has in it what you need?
Hire a lawyer.
Contractors prefer to use their own forms, for obvious reasons. The contract was not written with your best interest in mind. Hire an attorney because at the very least you will have someone to review the contract. Ideally, an attorney can help you draft your own contract or make appropriate changes to the contractor's contract – the latter is the most likely scenario. Just remember that disputes ultimately cost a great deal more than the fee you are charged by your attorney for such a service.
Disputes are to be litigated on your turf.
Have you heard of the home court advantage? If you do not follow sports, it means that you benefit from basing your operations locally. In terms of litigation, you want to be sure that a contract contains provisions that state that any disputes will be litigated on your turf. Contractors and suppliers from out-of-town might think they can take advantage of the fact that you will not want to drag yourself across multiple state lines in the event of a lawsuit.
Properly motivate your contractor.
Payment should be all the incentive a contractor needs. The contract should be clear about when the contractor is to deliver on all promises. Create a payment schedule. Withhold payment until the work is done pursuant to the schedule and final payments to subcontractors have been verified.
Protect yourself from errant contractors.
Beware of the runaway contractor. This contractor leaves you on the hook by not paying his subcontractor and suppliers, even after you have paid him. Request the names of all professionals your contractor intends to work with. You want formal acknowledgments from subcontractors that they are being paid for their work. This can be accomplished by requesting conditional partial lien releases during the construction term followed by a final lien release at completion. The contractor can collect them and present them to you.
Reign in unauthorized costs.
Some contractors will attempt to sneak unauthorized charges past you. Any changes that will impact the price of the construction need to be in writing and signed off on by both you and the contractor.
The above recommendations are only general tips. However, there is a lot more that should be in the contract. If you have any questions regarding contracts and home improvement contracts, contact his office for an initial consultation.
The Law Office of H. Benjamin Sharlin LLC
is owned and operated by H. Benjamin Sharlin and serves all of Mercer County, New Jersey and the surrounding areas. Mr. Sharlin is a bilingual Spanish-speaking attorney who vigorously represents the interests of all his clients.
Call (609) 585-0606 or click the button below to schedule an appointment