BBB Tips

Signing The Contract
  • Terms and Conditions– All agreements and oral promises regarding the home improvement project should be put in writing to protect both you and the contractor. If you intend to do some of the work yourself or hire another contractor to do it, such terms should be written into the contract as well. The written contract should also include:
    • A thorough description of the work to be done, specifying all materials to be used in terms of quality, quantity, weight, color, size, or brand name;
    • The agreed upon starting and completion dates;
    • The total cost, with a breakdown of labor and material charges;
    • A payment schedule;
    • Any warranties and guarantees of workmanship;
    • The method for debris and material removal once the job is finished; and
    • Any additional information pertaining to how you want the contractor to perform, and the type of work you expect

In addition, make sure the written contract includes:

  • The contractor’s full name;
  • Address;
  • Telephone number; and
  • Professional license number.

Do not sign a partial or blank contract. Read every contract clause carefully and ask any questions you may have before signing. Then, retain a copy of the contract as soon as you sign, and file it in your records.

On any home improvement job, you should expect to make a downpayment representing approximately one-third of the total contract price. Excluding the downpayment, you should not make payments for any incomplete work. Schedule additional payments at weekly or monthly intervals or after completion of each phase of the project Again, all of these terms should be spelled out in the contract and clearly understood by both you and the remodeler.

  • Cancellation Rights— When you sign a home improvement contract in your home and in the presence of a contractor, or contractor’s representative, you have three business days in which to change your mind and cancel the contract. The contractor is required to tell you about your cancellation rights and provide you with any cancellation forms. If you cancel, it is recommended that a notice of cancellation be sent to the contractor by telegram or certified mail, return receipt requested.
  • Lien Protection— For a large remodeling job that involves several subcontractors and a substantial financial commitment, you should protect yourself from liens against your home in the event the primary contractor does not pay the subcontractors or suppliers. You may do this by adding a release-of-lien clause to the contract or by placing your payments in an escrow account until the work is completed.
  • Warranty Clause— Any warranty offered by the contractor should be in writing and you should read it very carefully. The warranty must state whether it is a “FULL” warranty that gives the consumer certain automatic rights; or a “LIMITED” warranty that limits certain consumer rights. Also, the warranty clause should spell out all terms and conditions in clear language that you can easily understand.

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