We're about to sign a contract with a home improvement 'guy' to gut
and renovate our only bathroom. We interviewed several and this one
seemed a good fit, good price (not lowest, not highest) and the
references (for what those are worth; I prefer word-of-mouth myself)
That said, this is our first foray into hiring a contractor. What are
typical contract terms for things like warranting against defects in
workmanship (e.g., leak below tub area 6 weeks after installation) and
taking longer than estimated to finish? Is a price penalty for passing
a deadline normal? This is our only bathroom and if he leaves us high
and dry for 2 days to to work on a friend's emergency that's going to
hurt. And what if the workmanship is marginally sloppy, i.e.,
something is hung slightly out of plumb, or a joint doesn't meet
What are typical payment terms/stages? Up-front and punch list
percentages? We are buying all the fixtures and tile, he's doing the
labor. We've asked for a certificate of insurance and there's no
I've googled and found general references to what a good contract
should include and many warnings about proceeding without one, but not
much for specificity in typical terms.
>We are buying all the fixtures and tile, he's doing the labor.
Find a real contractor. You're worried about workmanship (leaks), quality
etc. There is no way a professional will guarantee anything if you buy
garbage. I know of zero professionals which will install what you buy,
except the box store contractors and there are plenty of stories questioning
if they should be considered professionals. The so called contractor you're
happy with getting sounds like a weekend warrior.
A real professional/contractor will be able to obtain better quality for the
same or slightly higher price for the products you have access to.
Sounds as if you're itching for headaches.
If it were up to me, that's what I'd do, however my DH is involved,
who is forever penny wise and pound foolish, and there isn't a damn
thing I can do about it other than make the best of the situation.
FWIW, we've made the purchases: Retrospect console sink and base by
American Standard, Kohler Memoirs 8" faucet and matching accessories,
Kohler Wellworth toilet, Kohler Villager tub, still shopping for the
tub/shower faucets, and a Panasonic exhaust fan. Cultured granite
surround from a local manufacturer, ceramic floor from local tile
house. I'm aiming for a Robern electic medicine cabinet with light kit
but DH is having a stroke at the price.
While none of those items could ever be considered top of the line,
neither are they bargain basement crap. They fit the house value,
scope of the project and our budget and that's the end of that.
That said, I'd still like information about typical contract terms.
Be sure in the contract you have a toilet every day, even if the sub
floor is rotted and needs replacing, a bucket is no fun. Be sure he is
to work continously till finished. Pull a permit and get the Free
inspections, yes even with job in progress, they will come out. Dont
pay completion till it is inspected. Check refrences, alot. Check court
records to see if people have sued him. The last guy that I hired had 15
suits he lost and is a hack, I won in court but wont collect, he is a
con. Be carefull be sure he is good, a bath can be a nightmare if
Payment can be 50 % down balance upon completion. But since you are
buying most apliances it could be Zero or 25%. I have people that know
me and bill after completion. But I know them, they know me. He may
want partial 25% payments, It is up to you and him and what he feels
Get everything in writing, even extras done, and at what hourly charge.
Or record phone conversations so he cannot change his story on extra
Use a camera to document details of work incase the job goes bad. Be
sure you are happy and get the inspector or an indepandant to review
work in progress if you have doughts. You do not want to find faults to
1 yr warranty is good in writing.
Sure, if you want all standard fixtures and material, the contractor could
provide them. However, I prefer to shop around and select my own materials,
of usually higher grade than the standard stuff. The contractors didn't mind
this at all, but they all said that they would have to wait until all our
materials had been delivered to our place before we could reserve them for a
specific date. They didn't want to have to start and stop work due to
missing materials. I could live with this constraint.
Since we provided the materials, the contractor asked for only a 10% deposit
at contract signature, no deposit for materials like they would normally do.
We specified a not-later-than contract start date, after which we could
cancel the contract if it hadn't started. We paid another 50% at the end of
the first week, and the rest after we were satisfied that the job was
completed to our satisfaction. The whole job took 10 days, exactly as they
had promised. The wording of the contract specified something about the work
being done according to the "rules of the art" or something like that. It's
not very specific, you might want to be more precise.
All plumbing and drains should be checked for leaks before the walls are
closed. Make sure you take pictures while the walls are open, to keep a
record of where all the framing, plumbing and wiring goes. I wish I had done
that, it would have saved me a lot of hunting for studs later.
Your best insurance is a good worker. Since you already have references
on this guy you are probably OK. But, ask about his insurance and then call
his insurer and confirm that he is insured and that your work will be
covered. If he does not have insurance then be absolutely sure that he has
done many baths before you let him touch yours. Your local library may have
sample contracts, ask the librarian. Your county courthouse will have a
library and a librarian who can also help. I think many stores that sell
stationary (Office Depot?) sell pads of standard contracts. Getting legal
advice from strangers on the internet may not be the best approach to your
questions. Call around and see if a local attorney will talk about building
contracts for a flat fee ($100-150).
The contractor is preparing and bringing a contract, I just want to
know what things are 'standard' or acceptable beforehand, in the event
there should be any need for negotiation. This is our one and only
bathroom and he has verbally guaranteed we wouldn't be without certain
amenties overnight. That has to be in writing, although truly -- what
good will that do? We'll either have a working john at the end of the
day or we won't. If we don't, sure there'll be some penalty in there
but I'd rather have a toilet overnight than a few extra pennies.
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