Your house has more work than you can do over weekends and you need to hire some extra help. While some states recognize verbal contracts, a written contract protects both you and the workers from misunderstandings because of vague instructions. A number of key provisions need to be in your contract to make it legal. If the worst scenario happens and you need to bring legal action for workers not finishing contracted projects or doing substandard work, a written agreement with all the bells and whistles provides you with legal proof.
Research any special materials required to complete the jobs and techniques necessary to do the job correctly. Research specific brand names and note specific part and manufacturing identification numbers.
Title the contract "Work" or "Service Contract."
List the two parties agreeing to the contract and the address for the work. Your name should be included only if you are the homeowner of the property. If you aren't, list the full name of the homeowner as the person contracting the work. List the name of the licensed contractor, the company or the full name of the person doing the work as the other party to the agreement.
List the date of the contract and the date the work on the home project should begin.
Add the date the work must be completed to the contract. Talk to the contractor before setting the date. Allow time for any equipment orders to arrive and the contractor or worker to complete quality work. Incorporate a specific late fee penalty and the date the penalty takes effect.
Specify the exact work you need done. Use terms used in the trade and list the materials by brand name, when applicable, to be used on the job. Include details for all work, including the model numbers and store sku codes, store-keeping units, from your research to avoid any confusion. Using appropriate trade terms and specific materials helps the worker or contractor know exactly what you want done and the quality of the materials for the project.
Include a contract clause requiring the company or worker to carry insurance against injuries or additional damages during the time period of the project and require the contractor to list the certificate insurance number in the contract.
Specify the payment agreement for the work in the contract. Most contracts for major work require a deposit, payment for materials and a number of small payments to be made as the work progresses. Small jobs typically require only an initial payment and a final payment. The minor work incorporates the price of the materials. List the specific amounts of each payment, including specifying the party to pay permit fees.
- Check with your homeowner's insurance to determine what your own insurance covers should a major accident happen to workers not working under a contractor's insurance policy.
- Minnesota State Bar Association: Proposal and Contract for Building and Home Repair
- California Department of Consumer Affairs Contractors State License Board: What is a Contract
- California Department of Consumer Affairs: Warnings and Exceptions
- California Department of Consumer Affairs: Homeowner Checklists
- California Department of Consumer Affairs: What Should I Look for in a Contract and Binding Agreements?
- California State Administrative Manual: SAM -- Chapter 8400
- National Consumer Law Center: Avoiding Home Repair Fraud -- Lessons from Hurricane Katrina
- Better Business Bureau: When Hiring a Contractor, Get a Certificate of Insurance
- Oregon Department of Transportation Construction Manual: Chapter 25 -- Payments to Contractors/Retainage
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