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Construction contracts: Making words speak as loud as actions

When it comes to completing work on your home, the only things that limit your options are the laws, your imagination and the money in your bank account. If you have the funds, the ideas and the permission, you can hire people to complete just about any demolition or construction job.

While all this creativity, flexibility and freedom can be a great thing for you as a homeowner, it isn't necessarily wise to build the foundation of your professional relationships on these concepts. In situations where contractors and/or subcontractors will be working on your home, it is best to be clear, direct, firm and specific about what you expect, want and don't want by having in place a legal contract with these parties.

Construction contracts can be essential tools for any party involved in a project. They are in place to protect both parties, and define rules and guidelines for the work being done. For instance, your contract can establish:

  • Price of goods and services
  • Expected completion dates
  • Approved methods of dispute resolution
  • Approved payment methods
  • Outlines of the work to be completed
  • Change orders
  • Insurance and certification specifications
  • Provisions for the hiring and payment of subcontractors

These and many other elements should be detailed in a typical construction agreement, and they will serve as a way to definitively protect both signing parties. Without a contract to enforce and refer back to, disputes can arise without any clear indication of what should happen to remedy the situation.

Too many people think going through the process of drawing up a contract, reviewing it and making certain changes is tedious and little more than a formality. However, this can ultimately come back to haunt you in the event that problems with the project arise.

Before you decide against signing a contract or if you are considering whether a written contract is necessary or not you should consult an attorney who is familiar with both contract and construction disputes. With legal guidance and support, you can ensure the details of your project, your professional relationships and your interests as a homeowner are clearly defined and protected.

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