Monday, June 29, 2009

Why You Need a Good Renovation Contract

An old post that is worth re-publishing:

I just had a great experience as a lawyer last week. A client called and he was not unhappy. In fact, he was about to start a home renovation project, and was really looking forward to it. He found a contractor he liked, and he and the contractor were working together collaboratively. A colleague suggested to him that he come see me to draft their contract. It certainly made sense.

For less than 1/2% of the value of the project, we hammered out a contract that spelled out the understanding of the parties. It is in compliance with local law, so the contractor is protected. In fact, the homeowner told me that the contractor was willing to chip in and help pay for my fee. Discussing the contract terms helped the homeowner further define the scope of the project and a realistic payment schedule.

We discussed what would happen if change orders were necessary and how they would be handled. The homeowner decided what would constitute an unreasonable delay. Problems were anticipated and dealt with preemptively.

This experience was in huge contrast to the usual scenario in my practice. I receive a call from a desperate contractor or homeowner and things are going terribly wrong. It is usually too late to get the project back on course, and on some level, everybody loses. That is why I started this blog; to serve as preventative medicine, and to encourage more people to take my client's approach from last week. This may be the best money he has spent so far to ensure a successful home improvement project.