Once you've picked a home remodeler, work should not begin until you have reviewed and signed a written agreement or contract that spells out in detail the what, where, how, time span, and cost of your project.
What should your home remodeling contract include?
— The contractor's name, address, telephone number, and license number (if applicable).
— A visual representation - blueprint, floor plan, sketches - that shows what the home remodeler will do and where.
— The timetable for the project, including approximate start and completion dates.
— The price and payment schedule.
— Detailed specifications for all products and materials. The description of each item should provide enough detail to clearly identify it, such as the brand name, model number, color, and size. This section of the contract may also describe any materials that will be selected later, who will choose them, and the amount of money (called an allowance) set aside to pay for each item.
— Information on who will obtain and pay for necessary permits and other approvals.
— Insurance information.
— Procedures for handling change orders.
— Lien releases to ensure that you are not held liable for any third-party claims of nonpayment.
— Provisions for conflict resolution in the event of a contract dispute.
— Notice of your right under the FTC's Cooling Off Rule to cancel the contract within three days if it was signed someplace other than the remodeler's place of business.
— Details on issues like access to your home, care of the premises, phone and bathroom use, and cleanup and trash removal.
Once you read your home remodeling contract carefully, review it with your home remodeler to clarify any wording you do not understand. If you still have questions after this meeting, you should discuss them with your attorney. When all your questions have been answered, you're ready to sign the contract.