Although it is required to have written contracts between contractors and consumers for projects over $2,000, it is recommended to have written contracts for all projects.
Having a written contractor protects all players as well as ensures project plans and execution. Generally speaking, the more detailed the contract is, the fewer problems there are in the future. Details and accurate information, like matching up names, prices and records are important to document.
The biggest cause of homeowner-contractor disputes is either not having a contract at all or having a poorly written contract. Make sure all parties are on the same page and understand everything that is and isn’t included in the contract.
The following should be included in a contract:
- A list of materials used
- A list of “allowance items” and the budgeted amount
- A list of permits needed and who will obtain them
- A starting date and a completion date
- The total price, payment schedule and any cancellation penalties
- A list detailing what the contractor will and won’t do
- Warranties of workmanship, length of warranty and what is and isn’t covered by warranties
- The contractor’s name, address, and CCB numbers as it appears in records
Make all changes in writing to avoid problems during the project. If changes are made at the right time, the cost and length of the job may not be affected. If changes in the plans or contract occur during the project, put them in writing as amendments to the contract, including especially any price differences and who will pay for them. Communication between the contractor and the consumer is imperative and keeping good written records, including a log of conversation and copies of all documents, correspondence, canceled checks, change orders etc. will keep everyone safe. If problems develop later or you sell your home, the entire project is documented.
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