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    Home Renovation Projects should have Home Renovation Contracts
    Posted: 2012-08-09 05:00:01

    By Wonderlane

    The day may have finally come for the need to draft home renovation contracts. With the increased frequency of disputes between homeowners and professional renovators, the good old fashioned handshake that used to seal the deal years ago does not seem to cut it anymore. This is especially so for small-sized renovation projects, where it becomes easy for homeowners to complain about the work done and for contractors to get away with shoddy quality.

    Contracts are a great way to lay out the rights and responsibilities of the parties. If there is any doubt about what each party is supposed to do, a contract should answer it. Renovators may want to develop their own contracts, which could be used for any job they have to perform. Hiring a lawyer at the on-set to ensure your template contract is drafted properly can be considered good practice. However, it is certainly not necessary as there are many standard contracts available online for free or for a minimal charge.

    Such a contract does not have to be redrafted every time a client comes in. Since it is very likely that the renovation job will not be of large scale, it does not make sense to draft a complex agreement. It can be a simple standard document, which will at least lay out the basic rights and obligations of the contractor and the client. For example, a standard agreement might lay out:

    • The names of the contractor and the client

    • The price of the job

    • Any deadlines

    • How payments will be made

    • What materials will be used in the renovations process

    • Any warranty or guarantees

    • What happens if the job is not completed as promised

    • How contract can be terminated

    As the homeowner, you must not take the contents of the contract lightly. Once signed, this contract becomes legally binding. Make sure that you have read the terms very carefully and clear up any uncertainties with the contractor (or even a lawyer in case of large renovation projects) before signing. Also ensure that the contractor you consider hiring has the appropriate credentials. Certain trades, such as plumbers and electricians, require a licence or certificate to perform their duties.

    Some general things to consider

    The contract must be fair and balanced, and should be easy to read and understand. Any unfairness will be considered by a court if a dispute arises. As the contractor, you should always review the contract in detail with the homeowner before signing. If both parties review every clause, and every page is initialled, disputes over the contract will be less likely.

    Keep in mind that if any of the aforementioned areas require a significant amount of detail to ensure clarity, the description could be included in a “Schedule”, which typically appears at the end of a contract. For example, if the “Scope of Work” section requires detailed drawings to describe the work accurately, a reference can be made in the document, such as, “For detailed drawings, please refer to Schedule A below”. The Schedule can contain the drawings as well as the details both parties think appropriate. Keep in mind that once a Schedule is referenced, it becomes part of the contract and bears the same weight, from a legal perspective, as the rest of the document. Since it is binding, it is a helpful tool in resolving disputes and protecting yourself against unfair behaviour.

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