13 Aug Do we need a contract?
Unfortunately, a handshake agreement doesn’t cut it anymore. There are too many unscrupulous people who are all too willing to take advantage of a situation for their own gain. Reputable businesses have contracts for everything, from leasing a vehicle, mortgages, cell phones, renting apartments, etc. Contracts are a natural and necessary part of life. Additionally, renovation projects have become more complex and a larger investment than ever before. Even the simplest project should have a contract to ensure that everyone knows and agrees to the project specifics.
Just to be very clear, all professional renovators and builders will require a contract as a normal course of doing business. This is one of the added values of hiring a professional contractor. It would be foolish for a person to start a renovation or building project without a contract. If your selected contractor does not require a contract, this is a “red flag” and you should reconsider your choice of contractor. A contract is free and protects the home owner and the contractor, by clearly identifying the following: detailed scope of work, specific reference to products being used, price, required deposits, terms of payment, and a timeline for completion.
Additional contract documents should include the contractor warranty, insurance certificate, WCB letter of good standing, safety certificate, and any design drawings that were prepared for the project. When these particular items are included with a detailed contract, they will help to ensure smoother renovation process and help prevent or resolve any conflict.
A contract should include a procedure for regular communication and “change orders” during the course of the project. Having regular communication between the client and contractor ensures everyone remains in the loop and all “change orders” receive approval before proceeding with the work.
“Get it in writing” is an initiative by the Canadian Home Builders Association to educate the public on the importance of selecting the right contractor for your project and having a contract for all renovation and new home construction work. This is something I fully stand behind as it is critical for a successful project and protection of homeowners.
An important note to all homeowners hiring a contractor: never sign a contract until you are satisfied with the content. If there is anything that you do not understand or you need clarification regarding industry jargon, please ask your contractor before you sign. It is okay if you do not understand but it is not okay to remain ignorant. A professional will be ready, willing, and able to explain any details of the contract and will appreciate your questions as this allows them to address items before they become issues.
As a professional, it has been my experience that a detailed contract provides a high level of comfort and confidence for the client and contractor. It allows an open dialogue to occur in advance of any conflict and permits a less stressful and more productive relationship between the homeowner and contractor.
Dan Monk, P.Eng. / Red Seal Carpenter
Owner – MONK Renovations