6 Tips For Homeowners Starting a New Construction Project

For homeowners, starting a renovation or other new construction project can be an extremely stressful event. For many, it is also a major financial commitment that requires proper planning and preparation. One way to help make sure your next project is a successful one is by taking the time to hire quality professionals to do the job. Before hiring that first contractor, however, please consider the following tips:

1. Timetable: Give the project firm starting and ending dates. These can be adjusted as needed, for example if material delivery is delayed. Just remember to get any changes in writing and have both parties sign off on the change.            

2. Material and equipment: Get a detailed list of all the materials, equipment, fixtures, and so on that are purchased. List the quantity, size, color, model, and brand for each item. This could be a long section, but these details will reduce the chance of confusion or error.         

3. Change orders: Changes are a part of nearly every remodeling/construction project — whether it’s a do-it-yourself project or one for the professionals. If you change your mind about a product, design, or anything else, get the change written down on paper. If the contractor runs into an unforeseen problem (not uncommon), get the necessary change/repair in writing. Make sure that the contractor is not charging for “unforeseen problems” that should have been included. Get them to explain why something changed and ask why they didn’t anticipate this if you think it’s something that they should have known or anticipated. Describe all changes in detail, including materials, anticipated new completion date of the project, and additional charges. Make sure both you and the contractor sign all change orders.        

4. Warranties: A reputable contractor will usually guarantee workmanship and materials for one year. Some materials and products will carry a longer manufacturer’s warranty; so hang onto the paperwork as documentation in the event of future problems.          

5. Arbitration clause: Even with a contract, disputes can arise. You can avoid having to go to court, however, if you include a binding arbitration clause. If you do find yourself needing arbitration, contact the American Arbitration Association (AAA), which is a non-profit organization that helps people organize arbitration. The AAA Web site has downloadable forms and links and information about regional offices and online filing.        

6. Avoid paying twice: A common and unfortunate problem when dealing with general contractors is that the money sometimes gets from the homeowner to the general contractor, but not to the subcontractors. When this happens, the subcontractors can put a mechanic’s lien against your property! Avoid this by including a clause stating that the final payment won’t be made until you receive a lien-release form from the general contractor, all subcontractors, and each supplier.

Construction Law

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