With the popularity of Home remodeling television shows, abundance of online “DIY” videos, and easy access to home improvement stores, it’s tempting for home owners to want to “DIY” their next home remodeling project. A property owner sees a nice picture and the outcome of a project in a video, but they usually do not understand what really goes into achieving a high-quality renovation that is properly constructed and integrated into their existing home or building.
A professional licensed contractor understands and can explain to a property owner the importance of correct installation and sequencing of steps to achieve the quality finished work they desire. A licensed contractor knows the building code and permit requirements and what is behind or underneath the walls, cabinets, or flooring that the owner wishes to alter in the renovation.
The same goes for putting together a tight and enforceable legal contract.
Today there are thousands of websites and on-line resources that provide downloadable templates and encourage people to “DIY” their own contracts and legal work.
Just as a professional contractor would not advise a property owner to “DIY” most large-scale remodeling and building projects, professional contractors should hire an experienced attorney with construction knowledge to write and review their legal contracts and therefore reduce risk, save time, and money in the long-run.
A template or form contract may sound like a quick, easy and cost-effective option for a contractor, but it does not always contain the required legal elements or provisions of a complete contract. A good contract will protect the contractor from claims by property owners and provide a clear mechanism by which disputes can be resolved outside of court with the contractor receiving final payment. Poorly written and incomplete contracts leave contractors at risk for claims related to their scope of work, quality of workmanship or lawsuits that are costly in terms of cost and time expenditures by the contactor. Crucial terms that are often missing or incomplete in “DIY” contracts include, provisions regarding termination of the contract (with or without cause), payment requirements, confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses, and dispute resolution provisions including, mediation and arbitration instead of court, as well as the type of remedies available to recover for your damages, including your attorneys’ fees . Finally, and perhaps most important, an experienced attorney will be able to ensure that a contract is enforceable in your state, because the same laws do not apply in each state. Leaving out contract terms or language required in your state, may result in your contract not being enforceable. Remember the saying “You don’t know what you don’t know.” It’s a perfect cliché that applies to both remodeling/construction projects as well as legal matters. Professional contractors will be better off focusing on what they do best, while hiring an experienced attorney to help protect their business.