Contract Basics

Always have a contract before any work begins and don’t assume anything! A contract protects both you and the contractor so everything involved in the project should be spelled out in writing. Before you sign anything make sure you understand what you are signing. Review the description of the work to be done, the schedule, the terms, the payment schedule and how extras will be handled. Never sign a contract that is blank or partially filled.

Your contract should include the following items:

  • Contractor’s name, address, phone number, state license number.
  • Name and registration of the salesperson if one is used.
  • The price for the total job.
  • The approximate start and finish dates.
  • A description of what constitutes substantial commencement of work.
  • The payment schedule.
  • The “Notice to Owner” that has information regarding the state lien laws and the rights and responsibilities of the property owner.
  • A notice stating that if the contractor fails to substantially commence work within 20 days of the date specified in the contract that it is a violation of the state contractors’ license law.
  • A guarantee clause, usually for one or more years. This clause will force the contractor to repair his own defective work after the completion of the project.

The contract should be signed and dated by both the contractor and the home owner. Both parties should retain a copy of the contract.