Contract: To Sign or Not To Sign

To a sports figure or an entertainer, the word contract means earning money. In the remodeling world, to the client, the word contract means spending money. But having a contract, a good one, is just as important as the sticks and mortar things that go into your project.

Rest assured that the reason sports figures have managers is to make sure their client’s interests are served in the contract that they sign. In remodeling, you must serve as your own manager, unless your brother-in-law is an attorney. You have to make sure that what you are about to sign is meeting your needs and requirements for your project, no more and no less.

Here is what the PA Attorney General’s Office says are the minimal requirements for a home improvement contract in the state of PA . Other states have similar requirements in place. Check with your state’s Attorney General’s office for their particular requirements.

What must be included in a home improvement contract?
• The contract must be in writing and include the contractor’s registration number.
• The entire agreement between the contractor and the consumer including the date of the transaction.
• The name, telephone number, and address of the contractor and subcontractors.
• A description of the work to be performed including the approximate starting and completion dates of the project.
• The total sales price due under contract.
• The amount of any down payment plus any amount paid in advance for the purchase of special order materials.
• The amount of liability insurance coverage maintained by the contractor.
• The toll-free number maintained by the Bureau of Consumer Protection.
• A notice of the consumer’s right to rescind the contract.
What are my rights?
• A home improvement contractor must provide you with a copy of the complete contract free of charge.
• You have the right to rescind your home improvement contract without penalty within three business days of the signing date, except as provided under law for emergency situations.
• A home improvement contract is not enforceable against a consumer if it does not include all of the information required by law.
• A contractor may not demand or receive any payment for a home improvement before the home improvement contract is signed
(Used by permission; materials from the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General are provided for educational purposes only and should not be considered an endorsement of any product or service.)

The strength of the contract has a direct bearing on the success of the project. So, even if the document feels a little overwhelming, and working out the wording seems tedious, take heart, developing a good contract is time well spent.

Next Time…Permits

Q&A&CQuestions and Answers and Comments are expected and welcomed.

YOUR STORY – Tell us about your remodeling experiences, good or bad. We all have had them and perhaps you can help someone else have a great remodeling experience or avoid the issues that you encountered. Remember…keep it clean and civil or we can’t publish it.

Qualified Contractor

Some persons might think that these two terms are mutually exclusive, “Qualified” and “Contractor”. However, if you do your homework and put a little effort into making your decision, you can be satisfied that you are getting what you deserve…a qualified contractor.

First, we should define what we mean when we say “qualified”. Webster says,

Main Entry: qual•i•fied
Pronunciation: \’kwä-l?-?fid\
Function: adjective
1 a : fitted (as by training or experience) for a given purpose : competent

By definition there should be some way to quantify if your contractor is “qualified”.

Training. Has your contract attended and fulfilled the requirements to be certified and licensed in their field of expertise? Ask about their certifications and check their standing with the organizations that have issued their certifications. A contractor that is interested in staying current within their industry will take the initiative to be a part of local and national organizations that offer industry specific training that allows companies to gain knowledge about their particular area of expertise on an ongoing basis.

Experience. This component is easy to quantify. Asking the right questions will soon reveal to you how much experience your potential contractor has. Experience is not just the amount of years that the contractor has been in business. Reviewing pictures of past projects of similar scope and difficulty will confirm that your project will not be an experiment or used as “on the job training”. Asking for and following up on the contractor’s references is probably the most important activity that you can do to quantify experience. Interacting with past clients will allow you to ask and receive answers to the questions that are most important to you; questions on performance, quality, delivery, professionalism, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask about unmet expectations as well. If your contractor has performed well, the answer to that type of question will be short.

The most important aspect of picking a contractor is your level of confidence that they are the right contractor for you. Will they deliver the product that you are looking for? Will they create and maintain a professional work environment that will not compromise you and your family’s values? Am I willing to compromise my expectations just for price? Only you can make these determinations.

In the end the choice is yours. You need to ask the hard questions and expect answers because it is your home and your family that will be affected by the choice you make. Choose wisely.

Next Time… The Contract

Q&A&CQuestions and Answers and Comments are expected and welcomed.

YOUR STORY – Tell us about your remodeling experiences, good or bad. We all have had them and perhaps you can help someone else have a great remodeling experience or avoid the issues that you encountered. Remember…keep it clean and civil or we can’t publish it.

Selections, Selections and More Selections

Part of why persons view the remodeling process as so overwhelming at times is the whole idea of all of the selections that are required.

Case in point, in a typical Bathroom remodel, there could be more than forty (40) areas and items that need to be addressed in the selection of styles, colors, finishes, patterns and functions. Each one of the general categories contains subsequent selections that might include color, layout, material, style, finish and other decisions that would impact the final outcome of the project.

If you try to navigate the myriad of selections alone, it is easy to see why a relatively simple project could possibly become a burden and overwhelm even the most seasoned remodeling client.

Gehman Custom Remodeling recommends enlisting the help of a design professional to help coordinate the process of reviewing and finalizing the selections needed for each project.

Dividing and conquering each area separately is a smart way to approach the daunting task. However, you need to keep the big picture in mind. You need to realize that each of the individual choices that you make has an impact on the larger picture, not to mention the budget. Having your own personal design professional would go a long way in guiding you through that process, all the while keeping you on task and mindful of your final destination.

Certainly, the more upfront research you do going into your project the better prepared you will be to make the selection process as painless as possible. Browsing through home magazines, walking through home design centers and searching the internet will help you define a direction that you want for your project. Bringing those design ideas into the final selections process helps to narrow down the field of choices.

Remember, you don’t need to go it alone. Your design professional is a personal tool that will act as your guide and could very well be the one tool that keeps you from drowning in the sea of selections that will be necessary to make your dream project come true.

Next Time…Qualified Contractor

Q&A&CQuestions and Answers and Comments are expected and welcomed.

YOUR STORY – Tell us about your remodeling experiences, good or bad. We all have had them and perhaps you can help someone else have a great remodeling experience or avoid the issues that you encountered. Remember…keep it clean and civil or we can’t publish it.

Expectations For Your Remodeling Project

Most relationships suffer from unmet expectations. The relationship that you have with your contractor will suffer if they don’t live up to or fulfill your expectations. The reality of the situation is that they can’t live up to or fulfill expectations that are not expressed or made known.
That is where you come in. As the client for whom the project is being completed, you need to have clearly defined expectations for your remodeling project. If you have difficulty in developing expectations here are a few that are common to almost all remodeling projects, whether it be a Kitchen remodel, a Bathroom remodel, an Addition or some other Specialty project.

10 Remodeling Client Expectations:

1. Listen to me, I’m the client
2. Communicate before the start of the project
3. Show up on time
4. Respect my property
5. Be Available
6. Communicate during the project
7. Produce what we agreed upon
8. Clean Up
9. Warrant the work
10. Communicate after the project

There may be many more that you will add or modify that would better reflect your specific remodeling project. However, the most important step is communicating your expectations with your contractor.

You see that the word communicate shows up three times on the list. This is no mistake. Communication is one of, if not the, most important factor in a successful remodeling project.

Gehman Custom Remodeling has developed our own list of what you can expect if you choose to enter into a relationship with us. Click here to view our “What to Expect…” document.

You will find that you will build a relationship with your contractor simply because they are spending a fair amount of time in your home. The kind of relationship that you have with your contractor is fully dependent on how well you communicate your expectations.

Next Time…Design or Plan

Q&A&CQuestions and Answers and Comments are expected and welcomed.

YOUR STORY – Tell us about your remodeling experiences, good or bad. We all have had them and perhaps you can help someone else have a great remodeling experience or avoid the issues that you encountered. Remember…keep it clean and civil or we can’t publish it.

Developing Your Remodeling Project Budget

Initially, when you start thinking about a remodeling project, whether it is a Kitchen remodel, a Bathroom remodel, an Addition or some other Specialty Project, your dreams usually start big.

However, there is nothing more disappointing than having your dream remodeling project crash and burn when the contractor presents you with a contract for twice as much as you wanted to spend. This is what we call the “reality check” or “sticker shock”.

Here are some tools to help you develop a realistic budget for your project.

1. Compare – Review your project in the context of national and regional averages using the Cost vs. Value Report by Remodeling Magazine. By viewing projects of similar scope, you can get an idea of where your investment may fall.
2. Be Aware – Only you can set the budget. You need to be realistic as to what your personal/family budget can handle when it comes to something like a remodeling project. Using budgeting software can help you get a realistic view of where you are financially and what impact your project will have on your family.
3. Share – Once you settle on a realistic dollar amount that you feel you can handle, share that with your contractor. Sharing this information with your contractor will help them to tailor the scope of your project to meet your budgetary constraints.

Gehman Custom Remodeling would like to be one of the resources that help to shape your project. We can develop preliminary budget projections to guide your decision making process.

Gehman Custom Remodeling is in the business of making dreams come true without breaking the bank.

Next Time…Expectations

Q&A&CQuestions and Answers and Comments are expected and welcomed.

YOUR STORY – Tell us about your remodeling experiences, good or bad. We all have had them and perhaps you can help someone else have a great remodeling experience or avoid the issues that you encountered. Remember…keep it clean and civil or we can’t publish it.

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