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Don’t Expect Your Contractor To Be Psychic

I’ve always said that remodeling projects are like art or law…subject to interpretation, if your vision is not clear.  Well, home improvement contracts can also be subject to interpretation, if they are not clear (i.e. specific and detailed).

Don’t expect those you engage in the remodeling process to be psychic.  It’s very important for you to clearly articulate what you envision in order to create realistic solutions that meet the objectives and budget of your project, ensure the interpretation of your vision is just as you envision it and avoid costly unnecessary change orders.

Let’s say you are looking to remodel your kitchen.  So, you jot down what you envision for your kitchen, say…new cabinets, granite countertops, a pantry, counter-depth refrigerator and more prep space, just to name a few.

Now imagine taking your vision and creating a final product. Based on what you just jotted down, would you be completely comfortable signing a home improvement contract and starting construction?   I hope not, because at this point in the process your vision is not specific and detailed enough.

Before you sign a contract with a contractor, make sure you get clear on your vision. Only when you have thoroughly detailed your vision in writing (preferably via construction documents with detailed specifications to obtain permits and comprehensive instructions to the contractor), understand the contract and agree to the terms, should you then sign a home improvement contract.

According to the State Contractors Licensing Board a home improvement contract should :

  • Contain everything agreed upon by the consumer and contractor.
  • Detail the work, price, when payments are made, who gets the necessary permits, and when the job will be finished.
  • Identify the contractor, give their address and contractor license number.
  • Have warnings and notices about the right to cancel, mechanic’s liens, and permissible delays.

Having a clear vision, clearly articulating your vision to your project team AND having your contractor and EVERY other member of your project team interpret your vision just a you intended is the foundation to a successful remodeling project.  That way you leave nothing to chance.


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