What to Include in a Kitchen Remodeling Contract
Make sure that you and your general contractor are on the same page
By Stevie Donald
A written contract for a kitchen remodeling project protects both you and the contractor and should include several elements, agreed on by all parties. Your contractor will be a member of your household for the duration of the job, and the more clear your communication, the smoother the work should progress. It starts with a good written contract because, as the American Bar Association (ABA) stresses, an oral contract is difficult to prove in court.
The ABA recommends a preamble, listing your contractor's name and type of business entity -- if a corporation or partnership, make sure it's signed by an authorized representative. Include names, addresses and phone numbers of both the contractor and homeowner, along with the total agreed-upon price.
Have your contractor specify an approximate start and completion date. Issues outside of his control such as weather and supplier shortages can impact timing. If you have an important deadline, you may agree to a completion bonus if all, or a specified portion, of the work is done by that date.
Scope of Work
Write out what the work will entail, but avoid being so specific that any deviation may be considered an extra or up-charge.
Your contractor should list the materials he will include in the job, listing brand, type and size. You and your contractor should come to an agreement on the major components, such as type and design of kitchen cabinets, flooring, countertops and appliances. Include a clause for a cost adjustment if there are any changes in materials costs due to a change of mind or unavailability.
The contractor should put a warranty on her labor and the labor of her employees and subcontractors. Have the warranties for all the materials and appliances transferred to you in case of product failure.
Agree on who will be responsible for side work and cleanup labor. This can include demolition of the old kitchen and the cost of Dumpster rental, clearing out the cabinets prior to work starting and a daily or weekly cleanup schedule. Also include where the contractor can store materials and set up a safe work area.
Agree on a payment schedule. It's standard for a contractor to require a down payment when work starts and a series of progress payments commensurate with work completed as the job progresses. The final payment should be given only on satisfactory completion of all the work.
The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) recommends an arbitration clause be attached to the contract. In the event of dispute, this means that both you and the contractor agree to consult with an independent arbitrator to avoid litigation.
Licenses and Insurance
Get copies of the contractor's license, and make sure it's current. He can't pull building permits without a license. Also have a certificate of insurance from his insurance carrier, guaranteeing that coverage will be in force for the duration of the job.
About the Author
Stevie Donald is a regular contributor to DexKnows. She has been a painting contractor since 1979.
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