Why Home Improvement Is Important – As a homeowner, you know that home improvements can increase the use and enjoyment of your home, often with the benefit of increasing your property value.
Some small improvements are cheap and suitable for DIYers, even beginners: painting a room or adding decorative elements like a kitchen backsplash, for example.
Why Home Improvement Is Important
For larger projects, though—or if your idea of DIY is driving to a pizza place instead of springing for delivery—you’ll want to pay for the services of a professional.
Important Things To Know About Home Improvement Contracts
If you are only changing one element of your home, you may work directly with an expert in a specific area. For example, you may hire a flooring company to replace your carpet with hardwood.
But if you are renovating an entire room or building an addition, you may be working with a general contractor. The person you choose will be the leader of your project and will coordinate with other professionals to get the job done.
A home improvement contract is a legally binding document signed by you (the home owner) and the contractor. It should contain all relevant agreements between the parties. At a basic level, it provides a roadmap for what you can expect from your contractors and what they expect from you.
If all goes well, the contract will be submitted as soon as the job is done and you won’t need to look at it again. But if there is a problem or disagreement, the contract represents the rules for the project. If any dispute cannot be resolved between you and the contractor, both parties may use the contract when filing a claim.
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Because it is a legal document, the contract must specify who is signing the contract. That means it will include the name and contact information of your homeowner as well as the contractor, along with the address where the work will be completed.
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The heart and soul of a home improvement contract is the scope of work. Here the contract will describe exactly what is included in the project.
Sometimes the scope of work (sometimes called the SOW) will be a separate document attached at the end of the contract as an exhibit.
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Some of the items listed in the scope of work include what products will be used (including design choices such as color and size), who will perform what work (including subcontractors hired by the contractor for specific parts of the work), the amount of materials and any. Product and device identifiers, such as the manufacturer’s model number.
If there’s anything you expect to do that isn’t in the scope of work, ask your contractor to add it. This is not the place to deny “I believe them” or “I’m sure we can fix it.”
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Once you sign the contract, any changes to the plan must be documented and agreed upon by both parties. Your contract should describe the process for changing the order, which is a later part of the contract.
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Even small changes must be recorded; If you want to change the color of the trim from beige to ecru, for example. This protects both parties if any disputes arise later.
Most trades involved in home improvement projects have legal requirements for licensing and registration, and these can vary by state and locality. This part of the contract is where the contractor states that they have all the proper licenses and registrations, as do any subcontractors they will bring in. Those licenses may be attached at the end of the contract.
Any work done by the wrongly licensed contractor can cause problems down the road – at the final inspection, or even for future owners after you’ve sold the home.
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Your contractor should be well informed about the permits required for the type of work to be performed on your home. Normally, the contractor will obtain the necessary permits from the local government office. This section should specify who is responsible for obtaining and paying for the permit and ensuring that all necessary approvals are obtained.
Depending on the work to be done and local regulations, inspections may be required – generally at the end and sometimes during construction. The contract should specify who will conduct the inspection.
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Anyone you hire to work on your home must have the appropriate insurance to cover accidental damage to your property as well as injuries to their employees. Insurance may include workers’ compensation, liability insurance and surety bonds.
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This section only promises that you will give contractors and their employees reasonable access to your home and property so that their work can be completed.
They should also agree to take reasonable steps to prevent excessive disturbance and damage to the work area.
Your contract, as written, assumes that things are as they appear. But if you’ve watched any home improvement show, you know this isn’t always a fair assumption.
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This section explains what to do in case of unforeseen circumstances – insect damage, faulty wiring, or the dreaded mold, for example. Generally, the contractor should stop and work with you to create a plan, which should be documented in the change order.
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With so many factors at work – approvals over which you and the contractor have no control, availability and supply delays, weather – the timeline of a home improvement project can vary greatly.
However, your contract should provide reasonable approximate start and completion dates. It may also list dates for different stages of the project.
Steps For Planning Your Next Home Improvement Project
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Apart from the scope of work, the cost part of the project may be the most important for both parties. This section should be detailed; You should be able to see how much you are being charged for the materials as well as the number of people expected and the labor rate.
Other cost factors may include cleaning, delivery and equipment rental. Any costs that may change based on actual usage or amount of work should be recorded as an estimate.
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How much is the salary, and when is it due? When must another payment be made? Your contract may include a portion of the total amount payable upon order of materials, destruction, substantial completion or final completion.
A payment schedule is a way to hold both parties accountable; You should not pay for work that is expected to be done but not completed, and contractors should not continue to work if you do not pay as promised.
Your contract may state that you and the contractor will conduct a final inspection upon completion of the project. If you find problems at that point, they may be included in the “punch list” that the contractor will
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