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Top 10 Building / Remodeling Contract Issues

Look for these important clauses before you sign


African-american man with pen thinking before signing a contract document

Before you sign that contract...

Photo by Andrew Bret Wallis / Stockbyte / Getty Images

Before hiring a contractor for your building or remodeling project, all agreements should be put into writing. The written contract should include:

  1. The contractor's full name, address, telephone number, and professional license number
  2. Liability and insurance. Outline the responsibilities and risks incurred by the homeowner, contractor, and subcontractors
  3. A detailed description of the work to be done. Specify the materials to be used: quality, quantity, weight, color, size, brand name, etc. The house plans will become part of the contract
  4. The starting and completion dates
  5. The labor cost and the material charges
  6. Information on how and when you must pay
  7. Any warranties and guarantees of workmanship and materials
  8. The method for debris and material removal when the job is complete
  9. A "right to cancel" clause. This gives you time (3 days is the standard) after you have signed the contract to change your mind. The clause should also describe what happens if unexpected problems occur after the work is begun.
  10. Compliance with codes (e.g., building codes, zoning regulations) and environmental regulations

Be Safe When You Sign

  1. Never sign a contract unless it is filled out completely.
  2. Read the entire contract carefully. Ask questions.
  3. Keep a copy of the signed contract.
  4. Do not pay more than the required minimum downpayment before the work is begun.
  5. Do not pay the balance until all work is completed, inspected, and debris removed.

Learn More:

Before You Build: 5 Steps to Your New Home >>

Why Hire an Architect? >>

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