When you find the right contractor and it comes time to sign that contract, you want to be able to do it with confidence. Make sure it covers the following:
- Put all agreements in writing including oral promises. Spell out exactly what the contractor will and will not do. If you intend to do some of the work yourself or hire another contractor to do it, write this into the contract as well.
- Never sign a blank or partially blank contract, and read it carefully before you sign. Get a copy of the contract as soon as you sign it and keep it for your records.
- Be sure the financial terms of the contract are clear. The contract should include the total price, when payments will be made, and whether there is a cancellation policy.
- On any home improvement job, you should expect to make a down payment representing approximately one-third of the total contract price. Except for the down payment, you should avoid making payments for work that has not yet been completed.
- When you sign a home improvement contract in your home and in the presence of the contractor or contractor's representative, you usually have three working days to change your mind and cancel the contract. The contractor must inform you about your cancellation rights orally and in writing and provide the forms to use for canceling.
- The contract should specify all materials to be used, such as the quality, quantity, weight, color, size, or brand name as it must apply.
- If a warranty is offered, get it in writing and read it carefully.
The contract should specify an approximate starting date and completion date for your project. However, understand that delays can occur due to weather conditions or the availability of supplies.
Content updated on 11/18/2005