Home Improvements: Avoiding Nightmares

Often things go wrong with home improvements because things don’t go as planned and/or parties thought they were in agreement but had different things in mind.  The best way to avoid these headaches is to nail down (haha) as much as you can before work starts.  Snafus are common with big projects and here’s why:

  • Work takes longer than expected because of material delays, weather, new conditions not expected at the work site and different expectations. Nail down completion dates in phases to manage expectations.
  • Have your contract include complete descriptions of the brand of material and type of product to be used so a contractor can’t swap out what you think your purchasing with an inferior price. Getting the prices in the ballpark should avoid misunderstandings here.
  • Specify who is responsible for permits and building code compliance and spell out what will happen if the contractor fails to comply.
  • Contractors don’t clean up at the end of each day and homeowner’s get mad.

It is important to check with local noise ordinances and to have the contractor(s) work within those time frames in order to avoid non-compliance fines and stop work orders.

A few other cautions to keep in mind:

  • Avoid theft of materials from a job site – make sure they are secured by the contractor.
  • Keep your premises safe from trespassers while construction is ongoing.
  • Make sure delays and overruns are agreed to as they occur so unexpected charges and expenses don’t come as a surprise.

Sometimes, materials are stolen from the premises, therefore make it clear that the contractor(s) is responsible for it and check with the homeowner’s policy for coverage. There can be unforeseen damages that result from construction, so be sure the contract states that the contractor(s) is responsible. Projects usually don’t go exactly as planned, therefore a contract should have a provision that allows for modifications provided the changes are written, signed, and dated by all parties and attached to the original contract.

Susan G. Parker, Esq.

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