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Old 12-06-2006, 10:05 PM   #1
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Contractors and contracts


Does anyone know where I can get some free boilerplate contracts for home remodeling projects? What types of must have clauses should I insist on being in a contract with a contractor?

Is it too much to ask to have benchmarks, time lines, (ie: foundation by this date, framing by this date) or a drop dead date for finishing the entire project?

Thanks.

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Old 12-07-2006, 05:54 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tripower View Post
Is it too much to ask to have benchmarks, time lines, (ie: foundation by this date, framing by this date) or a drop dead date for finishing the entire project?
I will offer you this much:

We, as a company will never, ever, commit to finishing any project at any specific time line. Neither will any other fellow General Contractors that I know or have spoken to.
The few times we have received blue-prints along with directives stipulating such things as a request for guaranteed 'finish-by-dates'...we have just said, "sorry, we are too busy to fit you into our schedule". Again, that is the same feeling with every General contracor I know and have met.
In fact, I know of one homeowner that had those directives and it's been over a year, and he still hasn't found a GC to start the work.

Why?

Because there are NO ways to control issues that WILL and regularly do happen.

Examples:
Excavation issues: high water table, drainage, granite, lines in the way,
Bad soil, bad weather, etc, etc... = Weeks of delays.
Electrical = Changes in design, preferences, Electrical inspector only inspects a few days a week, you miss one day, you may have to wait 1 or 2 weeks (It's happened)
Flooring = Shipment sent, several boxes damaged, next shipment comes at the 'end of the month' = Weeks of delays.
Custom cabinets = Ordered in advance, your told 6 weeks. They send them in 8 1/2 weeks, and screw up 2 of the units. Wait 6 more weeks for the right ones.
Special order counter tops = shipped damaged, re-orderd = wait.
The painter's brother was killed in a car accident, he needs to take several days off. What are you going to say... no, he can't?
Remodeling=Open up a wall and find pest or water damage, poorly built construction = weeks of corrective work, before actually starting the remodeling project (it's happened)
Because of one delay, your plumber can't re-schedule you for another 2 weeks. The electrician can't make it back till 3 weeks. He had one week set asidefor your job, but your job was delayed and pushed him back....
I could go on, and on, and on.

It's like someone who is planning a Huge wedding and expecting everything to go just right, timed just perfectly, and all the guests to arrive on time.

Building a home, addition, or remodeling is much, much more complex. No matter how early materials and custom components are ordered, no matter how much you plan ahead and do follow up calls.... problems and delays will happen. These delays will always cause other delays... It's a ripple effect. There is no way to completely control all the possibilities for error...

All, I can offer is that if you do find a GC that is willing to commit to any guaranteed dates of completion....You have found one in a million.

- that's my 2 cents -

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Last edited by AtlanticWBConst.; 12-07-2006 at 05:59 AM.
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Old 12-07-2006, 08:17 AM   #3
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And if you find such a GC/contractor that will commit to your dates and language...chances are really good that he won't be qualified to do the work, or is limited on experience. You cannot expect to hold a GC/contractor to the fire for anything beyond reason....weather is a big one for us....sure, we can pour concrete in a snowstorm, if the customer wants a schedule maintained, but would you accept that floor or foundation?...chances are pretty good when I scheduled the job, it was 6 months out...now how can I possibly predict the weather window? I hope you see what Atlantic and I are both pointing out to you....if you want a good contractor, look for a reasonable expectation about expected time lines....the language in my contracts never commit to a date, but rather expected date, barring weather, unforseen site problems, suppliers, etc, etc. So you see...we give a date, but not really.

What you probably want is a GC or contractor that works on one project at a time, and will commit to your job, day by day, til complete...that is a reasonable request. Since I have several jobs going at once, I cannot commit to one project, because when weather forces us off an outdoor job, chances are we have drywall to hang, tile to lay, commercial work that is indoors, or we will build window and door rough ins for the next house we are going to frame to take to the job site later.
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Old 12-07-2006, 09:20 AM   #4
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Atlantic and Joasis are absolutely right.

I had my home built 3 years ago, and there are many unforeseen circumstances that come up and both contractor and client have to be flexible.

I would hate to have my house built in a hurry to meet an expected date, and compromise on the quality.

(my 2 cents also...............)
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Old 12-07-2006, 02:07 PM   #5
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the contract is only as good as the contractor... if you find a bad contractor, he can screw you even you have the best contract you can come up with... if you find a good contractor, you can have the best job done even only a verbal contract is draw...

Put your emphasis on finding a good contractor than drawing a good contract... once you locate a good contractor.. drawing a contract is just last 10% of the task...

base on my experience... a good contractor generally have these characters:

- they can give you estimate pretty fast and they don't ask you for the fine details of the task and try to extract every single dollars out of your pocket, by asking questions like "if the tile is lay against the carbinet, each perimeter lengh, add $1 more..etc." They are able to give you quick estimate also indicates they done similar things so many times that they know how much it is about roughly...
- they work very fast... such as finish laying the tiles in one bathroom in a couple of hours... if you have a contractor who is slow... it means he has no experience...
- they usually have helpers who listen to them... means they earn respect in the industries because of their skills
- the best is they correct the money after the job... I use someone like that... that indicates the guy is so confident on his job they don't care getting the money a bit later... but this generally apply to small job only, for job > xyz amount... you usually need to pay some upfront.. but never pay a lot... the most is to pay the materials cost... and hold off a big chunk after the job finished. think about it... why the contractor worry about not getting pay if they know they are going to do an excellant job...
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Old 12-07-2006, 02:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlanticWBConst. View Post
I will offer you this much:

We, as a company will never, ever, commit to finishing any project at any specific time line. Neither will any other fellow General Contractors that I know or have spoken to.
The few times we have received blue-prints along with directives stipulating such things as a request for guaranteed 'finish-by-dates'...we have just said, "sorry, we are too busy to fit you into our schedule". Again, that is the same feeling with every General contracor I know and have met.
In fact, I know of one homeowner that had those directives and it's been over a year, and he still hasn't found a GC to start the work.

Why?

Because there are NO ways to control issues that WILL and regularly do happen.

Examples:
Excavation issues: high water table, drainage, granite, lines in the way,
Bad soil, bad weather, etc, etc... = Weeks of delays.
Electrical = Changes in design, preferences, Electrical inspector only inspects a few days a week, you miss one day, you may have to wait 1 or 2 weeks (It's happened)
Flooring = Shipment sent, several boxes damaged, next shipment comes at the 'end of the month' = Weeks of delays.
Custom cabinets = Ordered in advance, your told 6 weeks. They send them in 8 1/2 weeks, and screw up 2 of the units. Wait 6 more weeks for the right ones.
Special order counter tops = shipped damaged, re-orderd = wait.
The painter's brother was killed in a car accident, he needs to take several days off. What are you going to say... no, he can't?
Remodeling=Open up a wall and find pest or water damage, poorly built construction = weeks of corrective work, before actually starting the remodeling project (it's happened)
Because of one delay, your plumber can't re-schedule you for another 2 weeks. The electrician can't make it back till 3 weeks. He had one week set asidefor your job, but your job was delayed and pushed him back....
I could go on, and on, and on.

It's like someone who is planning a Huge wedding and expecting everything to go just right, timed just perfectly, and all the guests to arrive on time.

Building a home, addition, or remodeling is much, much more complex. No matter how early materials and custom components are ordered, no matter how much you plan ahead and do follow up calls.... problems and delays will happen. These delays will always cause other delays... It's a ripple effect. There is no way to completely control all the possibilities for error...

All, I can offer is that if you do find a GC that is willing to commit to any guaranteed dates of completion....You have found one in a million.

- that's my 2 cents -
Fair enough but as a homeowner I cannot have a project that goes on forever and continually gets shuffled to the bottom of the deck for 'more important' projects. I to am a PM and I understand that stuff happens and you need to take that into account when planning a project. But if you cannot even layout a probably finish date even if it is way out in the distance then your shouldn't be a GC.
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Old 12-07-2006, 03:07 PM   #7
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you name it, "probably date" in a contract means not much legally because you have the word "probably" so the contract has no legal binding...

reputation in the industry is still more important than how you draw the contract as if the contractor do the job so slow... it also hurts their reputation...

Last edited by KUIPORNG; 12-07-2006 at 03:10 PM.
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Old 12-07-2006, 04:26 PM   #8
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The contractor should definitely be able to tell you an approx. date.
No question about that.


For example, I was told that my home was to be completed in 4 months, and it took 5.
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Old 12-07-2006, 08:22 PM   #9
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Yes, we will give a projected date VERBALLY....But not in writing.

Because, that is just setting things up for a: ... "But in your contract you wrote...."

There are just as many unscrupulous Home Owner's as there are 'dirt bag' contractors out there. Though there are very few, such rare home owners will try to find loop holes in contracts when payday comes (final payment on completed project)...even though they know that there were genuine issues beyond your control, and even some issues that they, themselves, created....and they will still try to pull the: ..."But it says in your contract..."

once again, I say: Never in writing....

Projected realistic date verbally .... with a clear synopsis of how Murphy's Law operates ....
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Old 12-07-2006, 08:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tripower View Post
Fair enough but as a homeowner I cannot have a project that goes on forever and continually gets shuffled to the bottom of the deck for 'more important' projects. I to am a PM and I understand that stuff happens and you need to take that into account when planning a project. But if you cannot even layout a probably finish date even if it is way out in the distance then your shouldn't be a GC.
Ouch....

...Guess I should just turn in my state license and quite my job....


Ok, now I'll come to my own defense:

If you read my quote again, you will see that I wrote:

"...We, as a company will never, ever, commit to finishing any project at any specific time line..."

and: "...such things as a request for guaranteed 'finish-by-dates'...we have just said, 'sorry, we are too busy'..."

and: "....if you do find a GC that is willing to commit to any guaranteed dates of completion..You have found one in a million."



I NEVER said that we don't give projected 'best-case' scenerio time lines or 'projected' finish dates.

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Last edited by AtlanticWBConst.; 12-07-2006 at 08:44 PM.
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Old 12-07-2006, 08:45 PM   #11
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It is also very unusual for the homeowner to develop the contract. Generally, it's the GC's contract, and it might be tweaked a bit by the homeowner if there are some items of contention. On commercial work, it's often the the other party's contract. If I was a GC (and I am not) and I was presented with a home build contract by a homeowner, that in itself would be a sufficiently large red flag for me to be "too busy for their job". While the contract itself may not be a problem at all, it does speak volumes for the mentality of the customer who presented it. That's the sort that I like to weed out of my customer base.
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Old 12-07-2006, 08:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
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It is also very unusual for the homeowner to develop the contract. Generally, it's the GC's contract, and it might be tweaked a bit by the homeowner if there are some items of contention. On commercial work, it's often the the other party's contract. If I was a GC (and I am not) and I was presented with a home build contract by a homeowner, that in itself would be a sufficiently large red flag for me to be "too busy for their job". While the contract itself may not be a problem at all, it does speak volumes for the mentality of the customer who presented it. That's the sort that I like to weed out of my customer base.

...EXACTLY!!!......'dead on' observation
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Old 12-07-2006, 09:24 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tripower View Post
Fair enough but as a homeowner I cannot have a project that goes on forever and continually gets shuffled to the bottom of the deck for 'more important' projects. I to am a PM and I understand that stuff happens and you need to take that into account when planning a project. But if you cannot even layout a probably finish date even if it is way out in the distance then your shouldn't be a GC.
Stuff like weather, suppliers, employee turnover, sub-contractor schedule conflicts, things beyond a GC's control, huh? We need to quit being GC's and perhaps become PM's ( I am assuming you mean project manager)...and then we would know how to set ud a schedule and by all means, stick to it. Your last sentence sums up why you will have trouble with any contractor that may sign on for your project. You are assuming if you don't get what you want in contract, you will be "shuffled to the bottom of the deck".....Now, since Atlantic and I should shut our companies down, fire the employees...and lets see...no wait! We are GC's, and our advice is what you asked for. And the advice is not what you wanted, so if you are looking for an endorsement of your contract idea, you will have to search elsewhere.
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Old 12-07-2006, 09:30 PM   #14
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The only way your getting a gc to finish on time is to put a BONUS clause in the contract. Saying the gc will get x amount of a bonus if job is completed on time.
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Old 12-07-2006, 09:38 PM   #15
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Adding a bonus will also get you right with God and control the weather and make sure everyone toes the line....great idea 747!

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