When it’s time to begin a construction project, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. From payments to materials, it’s best to get the general contracting details in writing. Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you know what to look for in a general contractor agreement.
Types of Contracts
The format of your contract will depend on personal preference and project details. There are four types of construction contracts:
- Fixed-price or lump sum for the entire project
- Cost-plus, which includes cost of materials plus labor
- Time and material, with an hourly or daily fee
- Unit-pricing, often used for bidding on government projects
A contract may be a legal document, but it need not contain complex legal jargon. The language should be clear and easy to read. The only requirement is that you and the general contractor understand and agree on the expectations that are set out in the agreement.
Licensing and Insurance
Each state has certain licensing requirements for general contractors. For specialized work, such as plumbing, additional requirements may apply. Make sure that your agreement includes contractor license numbers. In the Boston area, you can verify a contractor’s license with the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulation and Standards.
A reputable general contractor will carry liability and workman’s compensation insurance to cover injury and property damage. A general contractor agreement should provide detailed information about insurance policies.
Project Description and Timeframe
Whether it’s a complex remodel or a straightforward kitchen counter replacement, you’ll want to get every step in writing. Details should include
- Removals and demolitions
- Finishing work
- Cost and quantity of materials
- Additional cost coverage for mistakes by subcontractors
- Worker access to bathrooms, refrigerator and other facilities
- How and when workers will clean up the project site
You and your contractor must also agree on the timeframe of the project. The start date and estimated length of time for the project should be in writing to keep the contractors accountable to you.
To avoid billing disputes, make sure that the payment schedule is clearly outlined in the agreement. Some contractors ask for half the total payment before the start date. Others tie the payment schedule to project milestones. Never make a payment in full before project completion.
Lien Waivers and Warranties
To ensure that you make payments on time, a contractor may place a builder’s lien on your property at the start of the project. As each subcontractor completes their work, they should give you a signed waiver releasing their claim on your property. Your agreement should include a provision for obtaining these lien waivers.
A general contractor should offer a warranty that covers certain defects in completed work. Make sure that the agreement explains which defects are covered and how long they are covered.
Hire Experienced Professionals
For more than a decade, RH Blanchard has provided general contracting services to Boston-area property owners. Our priority is to complete your project on time and on budget. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation.