Special article by April Whitzman, c/o NSHBA Staff
“Get it in writing.” We all have heard this expression about contracts before, but for good reason. Contracts form a basic part of one’s everyday life because they impact so much of it: a car loan; a mortgage; a cable or cell phone subscription; the list could go on forever. One of the most important contracts that one should get in writing, however, is a renovation or new home contract.
There are many occasions when homeowners are not satisfied with their homes’ construction or renovation, as their expectations from the contractors have not been met. However, all such problems can be reduced if you have a written contract. Having a written contract gives you more control over your renovation or construction project and is a good way to protect yourself and ensure long-term satisfaction.
For those homeowners who stick with a verbal agreement, this is not enough to protect your assets. Shaking hands when the verbal agreement is reached is fine, but then be sure to get it on paper. Can you imagine a car dealer shaking hands with you on your new car and then letting it go without a written purchase agreement? The same thing works for house contracts.
The most important aspect of the contract is that it defines what you and the contractor have agreed to. This includes basic information such as who the contractor is, what the contractor is responsible for doing, when the work will be started and finished, how much you will pay the contractor for the work, among others. If you don’t get it in writing, it can turn into a classic “your word against theirs” situation, leaving both parties without any proof of what was agreed upon.
This leads to question – what kind of contract do you need? For a minor home repair, such as replacing a kitchen faucet, a simple work order may be adequate. For more substantial repairs, you will want detail on the materials to be used and on the contractor’s warranty. Renovations and custom home construction contracts can be fairly lengthy and will need to include full plans and specifications; however, it includes all of the important information for the project!
A contract is deemed good if it treats both parties fairly. You want assurance you will get what you agree on, on the schedule you agreed on, and of course, on the price you agreed on. Contracts don’t have to be complicated.
In the end, it is your home and you want the final results to be a home you will be comfortable living in for many years. That said, although it is only one step in your renovation or new home, so protect you assets before you begin, and, ‘get it in writing.’
The Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association is another resource tool to help you prepare for your upcoming projects. Visit the website www.nshomebuilders.ca or phone 450-5554 / 1-800-668-2001 to find out more answers to your new home and renovation questions.