When undergoing a major remodel or renovation with a professional construction company, you will likely have a written contract in place. Selecting a good, licensed contractor doesn't have to be a difficult task but there are some things on the contract that you need to be aware of and concerned about if they are not in place for your protection and theirs. A simple handshake or word-of-mouth may not be a good contract as it is not legally binding in a court of law. Below are several points to consider when filling out and signing a contract for remodeling work in Portland.
The state of Oregon requires builders to have a written contract for any work worth $2,000 or more on a home. But even if it didn’t, it only makes sense to sign a contract that spells out all the particulars with someone who will be remodeling your home. Such a document protects both you and the contractor. Make sure your contract contains these items:
- Your name, address, and phone number.
- The name, address, and phone number of the contractor, along with their Oregon Construction Contractors Board (CCB) identification number.
- The project address where the work will be done.
- A description of the work to be completed. This is where you should spare no detail. Describe what will be built and list the materials to be used; the specific products or appliances to be installed, with brand names prices, and colors; and everything else that you have agreed upon with your designer and contractor. Attaching the designer’s plans will provide these details.
- Equipment: Will the job require scaffolding, a backhoe, a crane? Will the contractor supply them, or will they be rented?
- Insurance: The builder must provide proof of insurance, including general liability and workers’ compensation, and agree to verify that all subcontractors are insured. You may also want to check with your own insurance company to determine the limits and extent of your liability while other people are there working in your home.
- Lien waivers: Require your builder to provide a lien waiver before you pay each installment. With these waivers, the general contractor verifies that he or she has paid all subcontractors for the work they have done so far, which provides protection against the subs claiming that they haven’t been paid and placing a lien on your property
- Time element: When will the work start, and when will it end?
- Site preparation details: Do trees need to be removed, parts of the home demolished, or furniture moved? Spell out who will do that work and how debris will be disposed of.
- A requirement that the contractor apply for all necessary permits from the appropriate government agencies and schedule the inspections.
- Payment details: What is the total price for the job? What will be paid in advance, when will payments be made throughout the job, and what conditions need to be fulfilled before the final payment is made? How will you make those payments? Will you be charged a late fee if you don’t make your payments on time?
- Warranty: How long will the contractor guarantee the work? If not the contractor, what company will cover any repairs or replacements?
- Change Orders: As construction gets underway, it’s common for the homeowner to make changes, or maybe something unexpected rears its head behind the wall or in the crawl space. Such change orders should be made in writing. Spell out how will you be charged for that extra work.
- Dispute Resolution: If you and your builder have a major disagreement, are you resigned that one of you will take the other to court? Or will you agree in the contract to accept mediation and/or arbitration?
- Those pesky details: You’re likely to have a lasting impression of how well your builder treated you and your home, based on little things such as the cleanliness of the job site and respect for your schedule. So why not write some of these details into the contract? Who will repair the lawn if a delivery truck tears it up? Who will pay for a window broken by an errant 2-by-4? What kind of cleanup will be done at the end of each workday? What hours will the construction crews work? Will it bother you if the roofing crew is blasting loud music or talk shows from a radio? Can the workers use a bathroom in your house, or will they need to supply a portable toilet.
Remember- the contract isn't binding unless both parties sign it.
This list covers many of the issues that you will want to have down in writing for your project, but you also should have an attorney look over your contract before you sign it. Keep in mind that Oregon law allows a homeowner to cancel a contract for home improvements by delivering a written notice of that cancellation before midnight at the end of the next business day.