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

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