When you embark on a new home improvement journey, you probably spend a great deal of time planning, picking out just the right designs and materials, and finding the right Pro. Unfortunately, a lot of homeowners seem to think that once they hire the Pro, their job of planning, thinking, and preparing is over and now it’s time to let the professionals take charge. As a homeowner, you do have one more step, however, that you should spend an equal amount of time and energy on before you turn the reins over to your Pro – reading and understanding your contract. While a lot of the things we sign in our daily lives are just legalese that no one takes the time to read, knowing that it’s unlikely to impact them, your contract with your Pro is different. There can be clauses in there that protect you, and clauses that can protect your Pro, in case of different scenarios. Those clauses could also be missing altogether, which can lead to serious issues down the road if you simply sign without reading first. Know what to look for in your contract to make sure that your interests are protected throughout the job.

Pitfalls to Watch Out For

While it would be nice to believe that every Pro out there is looking out for your best interests, this is unfortunately not the case. This means that you could end up with a contract that specifies things that can make life difficult for you if you were to sign without reading it first.

Make sure that the contract does not promise the job to the Pro with an open-ended start date. This could mean that the Pro could put your work off indefinitely while making it impossible for you to hire someone else to do the job. Always make sure there is a set start date, and a clause releasing you from the contract if you are unsatisfied with the Pro’s work.

Your contract should also state very clearly the terms of payment and when each payment should be delivered. Otherwise, your Pro could ask for money upfront, then never complete the end of the job. If there is insurance money involved, make sure the contract specifies that the Pro will be at meetings with the insurance adjuster to help you get your claim and that only half the money will be paid upfront, with the final payment coming after approval from the insurance company and the satisfactory completion of the job.

Your contract should also include a clause releasing you from liens if your Pro doesn’t pay suppliers or subcontractors after you pay him. Without this clause, you could find yourself in the position of having to pay for the work twice, or even forced into selling your home to satisfy the lien.

Be sure that your contract also includes clauses that will ensure that your Pro cleans up after himself when the work is done. Make sure that the final payment is specified as coming after satisfactory completion of the job, which includes disposing of tear-out and debris, and cleaning up the property. If you’re having work done in sensitive areas, you can also specify in the contract that they protect these areas, such as hanging plastic sheeting to confine dust to one room, or covering landscaping with a tarp to ensure debris doesn’t land in it.

Make sure that your contract also details who will be working on the job if your Pro plans to use subcontractors or employees. You want to know who will be working on your home, and who is responsible for scheduling and arranging the schedules.

Finally, always make sure your contract goes into detail on what will be done on the job. Your contract should state step by step what will happen – now is the time to make sure that your Pro doesn’t cut corners. If you and your Pro agreed on two coats of sealer on the floor, then two coats should be written into the contract, otherwise, he might use one and call it a day.

Take Control of Your Project

Your contract is not just a piece of legalese you need to sign to get going; it’s the blueprint of how your project is going to go. Always take the time to read it from beginning to end, and don’t be afraid to point out discrepancies or missing information to your Pro. Never sign anything you aren’t sure of.

If you’re ready to take control of your project, sign up today to get matched with the right Pro for your job, and manage your project – including your contracts – from beginning to end.