As I sit down to write my annual list of resolutions for contractors, I am amazed at how much things changed in 2020. Construction was going well and then, in March 2020, COVID-19 hit. At first, we thought it was going to be a disaster for the construction industry. States, cities and towns shut down projects and many applied for PPP loans. Then, something amazing happened. Construction was considered an essential service and everyone was back to work.  That said, the work world changed: companies were donating their PPE to frontline workers, COVID-19 protocols had to be followed and paperwork had to be filed. Everyone was scrambling to figure out how to comply and keep their businesses going. So, you may or may not ask, what was I, as a construction lawyer doing? I spent March and April thinking about the new risks contractors/construction companies were facing and developing contract clauses to protect the industry. I wrote a number of blog posts with clauses to add to your contra

Why You Need a Good Contract

I have posted on this issue before, but when I was at a BAGB (Builders Association of Greater Boston) meeting the other day, contractors where talking about how difficult it is to present homeowners with a contract, and how they worry about scaring them off with something too long or complicated.

I am sympathetic to that issue, and understand that contracts make people uncomfortable. What I try to emphasize with both homeowners and contractors is that 1) the law requires a written contract for renovation work over $1000; and 2) a contract reflects a "meeting of the minds." The contract is the most important part of preparing for a renovation or new construction project because it helps the contractor manage expectations with the homeowner. Discussing the contract terms requires the homeowner and contractor further define the scope of the project and set a realistic payment schedule. It lets the homeowner know what is included and which additions would require a change order.

The clients learn what would happen if change orders are necessary and how they will be handled. The parties agree on what would constitute an unreasonable delay. Problems are anticipated and dealt with preemptively. As an arbitrator I know says, "A good contract is negotiated, and then it gathers dust on the shelf."

This experience is 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 the proper approach to a renovation or new construction project by discussing the project thoroughly. This process ensures a successful home improvement project.

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