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Real Life Legal_A Lawyer’s Guide to Home Renovations
RLL_spreads_Lawyers guide to renovations

A Lawyer’s Guide to Home Renovations

RLL_spreads_Lawyers guide to renovations

Legal Guide to Home Renovation

Author: John A. Goodman, Esq.
Buy Book: Amazon

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people undertake home renovation projects ranging from a few thousand to millions of dollars. Some will have lawyers review contracts for the work and others will wish they had.

This Real Life Legal™ guide, written by an attorney with over twenty years’ experience counseling clients on home renovation projects, provides an insider’s take on how to make these projects run smoothly. Learn why it’s important to have contracts with your architect and contractor, and what they should provide to keep projects on track and costs within budget.

While not every project needs a lawyer, as you navigate dealings with your lender, an architect, a general contractor, and government agencies that rule on land-use and zoning matters, an attorney’s input may be a good idea. If you follow the suggestions in this book, there’s no doubt that you’ll reduce the stress that occurs when your home in upheaval.

State laws will impact your project, and hidden costs, change orders and liens may affect your ability to sell your property.

We cover that all here. And make it easy to understand.

Real Life Legal™ wants you to be prepared.

John A. Goodman is an attorney specializing in commercial real estate, construction law and general contract law. He is also a certified mediator and licensed to practice law in New York.


Table of Contents

What This Book’s About

Parties Involved in a Home Renovation Project


General Contractor

Subcontractors and Suppliers

Governmental Agencies



Do I Need a Lawyer?

The Right Attorney Can Save You Money

When You Don’t Need an Attorney

Home Renovation Basics

State Law Provisions

Hidden Costs

Payments to Your Contractor

How Long Will Construction Take?

Project Scope

Who is Driving the Bus?

What If the Architect or Contractor Fails to Perform?

Can You Terminate a Contract?

What Municipal Regulations Govern the Project?

What Happens If There Is a Dispute?


Mortgage Loans

Legal Agreements in Home Renovations

Standard Form Contracts

Who Prepares the Contract?

Nail Down the Terms

State Law Applies

Construction Loans May Require Lender Sign-Off

The Architect’s Agreement

Schematic Design Phase

Design Development Phase

Construction Documents Phase

Bidding and Negotiation Phase

Construction Phase

When to Pay Your Architect

Additional Architectural Services

Architectural Change Orders

Who Owns the Architectural Plans?

Indemnity and Insurance

Right to Terminate Your Architect’s Services

Types of Construction Contracts

Stipulated-Sum Contract

Cost-Plus Contract

Cost-Plus, with Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP)

Design-Build Agreement

Typical Provisions in a Construction Contract

Scope of Work

Time for Completion of Work

Applications for Payment

Withholding Payment until Substantial Completion (a.k.a. Retainage)

Final Contract Payments

Change Orders

Protecting Against Hefty Change Orders

Protecting Against Concealed Conditions


Right to Terminate

Protecting Against Common Problems in Home Renovations

Discrepancies in Bid vs. Build Plans

Check for Environmental Issues at the Outset

            Monitor the Work

            Have an “End Date” in the Contract

            Do Your Due Diligence: Get Meaningful References

            Get a Scope of Work with Your Estimate

Concluding Thoughts

Renovation Checklist


About the Author

Real Life Legal™

Real Life Legal™...
We want YOU to be prepared!

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