Archive for November, 2012


Thursday, November 8th, 2012

When a contract for home remodeling or home improvements is on your kitchen table, your spouse is wanting you to sign, the Contractor is patiently waiting for you to sign, all the plans have been completed, the finish materials have been picked out, and you are ready to move forward, but yet “something” tells you that all is not right, here are some things to look for before ‘jumping from the frying pan into the fire.’    READ MORE

Before signing that contract for home remodeling or improvement jobs, here are some issues that need to be addressed to save yourself thousands of dollars and hundreds of headaches:

1.  Be extremely wary of a non-specific contract.   By this I mean, you need more in a contract than just ‘Remodel master bathroom.’   Instead the details should be laid out:

Is the bathroom to be gutted down to the studs or only partially?

What happens to the debris?

Is the shower to be larger or smaller than the existing?

Will there be cement used for the walls in the shower?

How is the tile to be laid out?

Will the tile be sealed?

Is the new cabinet to larger or smaller?


2.  Make sure the contract specifies what the Contractor is to purchase and what the Homeowner is expected to purchase.   Do NOT let the Contractor select the finish materials (sinks, tile, faucets, tubs, granite, hardwood flooring, etc) as his tastes will surely be different than yours.   It is the Homeowner’s responsibility to choose the finish items;  trust me, you will be much happier!

3.  Do NOT, under any circumstances, give the Contractor 50% (or even 10%) of the total contract up front.   In most States, this is against the law.   Ideally, a small non-refundable deposit is paid at the time of signing, then another payment when the Contractor and his crew actually show up to start the job, and then weekly payments or as work proceeds payments.

4.  Do NOT give large amounts of money to the Contractor at a later date without good cause –  good cause being defined as paying for the kitchen cabinets, etc., and not because he is short of funds to pay his workers this week.   If he gives you this story, most likely he is overextended on other jobs and is truly short of funds, but that is his personal problem – don’t make it yours also.

5.  Specify a beginning date for the work and an estimated finish date for the project.   Have the Contractor put in a penalty clause, such as a $100.00 per day deduction from the final payment,  if the work extends beyond the finish date.   But do be reasonable when the finish date is passed.   There may very well have been a valid reason.

6.  Watch out for ‘Change Orders.’    (Change Orders defined as additional work above and beyond the scope of the original contract, either necessitated by the discovery of damages behind the walls; or changes requested by the homeowners because they have changed their minds about the design.)  These can become very expensive and throw off  the finish date completely.   It is extremely important that you have everything you want to do in the original contract, so there are no surprises later.   However, if the Contractor opens up the walls of your bathroom and the structure is loaded with termites and the wood completely rotten, there will be a Change Order and rightly so.

Finally, it is very important to know:   YOU ARE IN CONTROL BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE CHECKBOOK!!!