Remodeling contracts and paperwork doesn’t need to be a mystery. All you need is a little patience, common sense and organizational skills combined with some basic knowledge. You should be aware of all the details in your remodeling contract before you sign. Here are some key areas you should look for:

  • Detail what the contractor will and will not do.
  • Your contractor should detail a list of materials for the project in your contract. This includes size, color, model, brand name and product.
  • The contract should include the approximate start date and substantial completion dates.
  • Study all required plans carefully. Insist that you approve them and that they are identified in your written contract before any work begins.  This avoids any discrepancy in the understanding of schedules or responsibilities from both parties.
  • Federal law requires a contractor to give you written notice of your right to, without penalty, cancel a contract within three business days of signing it. This is provided it was solicited at some place other than the contractor’s place of business or an appropriate trade premises such as your home, for instance, or has financing provision.
  • Make sure financial terms are understood and spelled out in the contract. The total price, payment schedule, and any cancellation penalty should be clear.  In the event that one party does cancel it is important to communicate until every issue is settled.
  • A warranty covering materials and workmanship for a minimum of one year should be written into the contract. The warranty must be identified as either “full” or “limited.” The name and address of the party who will honor the warranty (contractor, distributor or manufacturer) must be identified. Make sure the time period for the warranty is specified.
  • A binding arbitration clause is also a good inclusion in the event a disagreement occurs. Arbitration may enable you to resolve disputes without costly litigation.
  • Thoroughly review the entire contract and be certain you understand it before signing it.  If you are confused in any way by the certain sections of the contract, don’t hesitate to ask your contractor questions or find a qualified third party to help you. You should consider having a legal professional review the contract before it is signed.
  • Consider the scope of the project and make sure all items you’ve requested are included. If you do not see a specific item in the contract, consider it not included. Never sign an incomplete contract, expecting more than you see. Always keep a copy of the final document for your records in a safe place.

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