Ask Angie

Contract best protection and roadmap for remodeling job

Angie Hicks from Angie's List writes the column HOME-ENV-LIVING-SMART for McClatchy-Tribune. (MCT)
Angie Hicks from Angie's List writes the column HOME-ENV-LIVING-SMART for McClatchy-Tribune. (MCT)

Dear Angie: We are having a new roof, a room addition and a screened-in front porch added to our house. Should I sign a contract with the remodeler and if so, what should it contain?

Joanne D., Chancellor, Al.

You absolutely need a contract that both you and your remodeler have read, understand, agree with and have signed. It’ll be the best protection and roadmap you can have for your project.

A good contractor should be happy to have a comprehensive, detailed contract, because it sets the expectations for what’s expected of both of you. A good contract should spell out what the project will entail, and can even include specific materials if you like. It should also include payment terms, which should be tied to progress, and a termination clause that allows an easy exit should either of you violate terms of the contract.

A contract typically should contain:

• A description of the job to be done;

• Specifics on the materials and labor involved;

• Start and completion dates;

• Information on licensing;

• Insurance and permit requirements;

• Change order procedures;

• Payment terms;

• Penalties for missed completion dates;

• A termination clause

The more information your contract contains, the less chance there is for miscommunication or gray areas. Even though it might contain a lot of information, it’s important you thoroughly read the contract before signing it. A contract can offer you protection, but it can also contain clauses that could lock you into an agreement you didn’t plan for.

So, the contract should be agreed-upon by both parties. You’re not at the mercy of the contractor in terms of what the contract does or doesn’t contain. It’s your job to protect your interests. If you see something you don’t agree with, or something is missing, speak up. If a contractor won’t work with you on reasonable requests, find one who will.

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