Contractual Obligations

Home remodeling contracts come in all shapes and sizes, from a one-page summary to a 10-page document. But before you sign on the dotted line, the Federal Trade Commission advises homeowners to take time to review the contract carefully to make sure all the details are covered. Understanding the finer points ahead of time can prevent misunderstandings and mishaps later.
     Contracts should include the contractor’s name, business address and phone number, and license number; payment schedule; who will obtain permits, if needed; and a detailed list of all materials needed for the job, including the product, brand name, size, color and model. Some contractors may include a visual presentation of the work to be done, such as sketches or a floor plan. Warranties covering materials and workmanship should also be included.
     Contracts should address how change orders will be handled. A change order is a written authorization to the contractor to change or add a task to the original work agreement, which can often affect the project’s cost and schedule. Remodelers may require payment for change orders before the work begins.
     The contract should also include a clause explaining your right to cancel the agreement within three business days. The contractor will provide two copies of a cancellation form, one for you to keep and one to send back to the company if you decide to cancel.
     If site clean-up and trash hauling are not included in the contract, ask for a “broom clause”, which makes the contractor responsible for all clean-up work. The contract may also include details on issues such as access to the home and care of the premises.
     Once the paperwork is signed, keep all copies in a safe place. Also keep track of phone calls, conversations and activities related to the project, and take photos as the project progresses. These records can be helpful in resolving any problems that may occur, either during or after construction.

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