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Let's talk contracts!

Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 27 total)
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  • #402023
    jponto07
    Moderator
    Bloomington, IN

    Who uses them and who does without?

    I’m in the process of fumbling through one with my partner and I’m quickly realizing I’d rather a lawyer draw one up.

    What points does your contract make and how well does it work for you?

    Jon P.
    Timber Carpentry & Construction
    https://www.facebook.com/timbercarpentry/
    Instagram

    #402030
    Rob
    Pro
    Birmingham, Alabama

    I started out with just a handshake.
    4 years into the business I met the ‘devil’ of a client that was not honest….
    I’ll stop that story there.
    I began writing contracts not because I couldn’t remember what I said we would do but because my client might not remember what we were going to do.

    and in case they were insane!
    “You know, they build mental hospitals for a reason”
    This is a line I came up with and use often when discussing contracts!

    So I wrote myself a contract and always felt bad that I had not hired a lawyer so a few years later when I had made more $ ..I hired the legal genius he wrote the perfect contract and charged me for his perfection.
    But something seemed awfully familiar so I took the golden contract to my local office supply and found the standard contract section (10 construction contracts= $1.99) and noticed that my brand new expensive contract, made just for me, by someone that truly understood my needs, was identical to the one on the shelf!
    I felt that was a lesson well learned (and paid for) and began to modify my own contract by reading books, reading and studying other companies contracts and attending seminars that focused on good contracts.
    Other than a few basic things that you need in every contract – names, addresses, city, zip code, phone numbers, exactly what is going to be done, amount and payment plan, warranty length and a place for signatures the rest is personal toward exactly how you operate.
    I use a 1 page contract but I add a Scope of work that may be several pages long.

    #402042
    DesertDeuces
    Pro
    Indio, CA

    I write my own contracts for just about anything I need one for. I took contract law in graduate school, thank goodness.

    A good way to write your own contract is to search for a few on the internet. Read through them and edit out what you don’t need. You’ll also notice the style that the contracts are written in. That will help guide you to add what you need that isn’t in the other contracts.

    Another good thing to do is to google search the legal codes that apply to your business. Read the codes carefully to make absolutely sure that your contract is up to snuff and that you are not crossing any legal lines, so to speak.

    Also, the best contracts are written in plain English. Keep it simple and make sure it’s readable by a busy client. Forget about the fancy-schmancy legal terminology. It’s just fluff. Write your contract to say what you mean in words that people can understand and you’ll have a winning contract.

    Pat

    #402043

    I would say having a contract between you and any subcontractors you hire is good business practice too. I can supply a sample of that if anyone wants a copy and pm’s me with their email address.

    #402057

    Definitely a good contract is a must! Ours are pretty simple & clear. Client name, project location, prints and scope attached to, down payment, draw schedule, unforseen clause for remodels, change order process, insurance requirements for the HO, and approx start date.

    Our attorney told us a long time ago there is no bullet proof contract.

    Andrew

    A Working Pro since 1995!

    Member since March 26, 2014.

    #402058
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I use Craftsman Construction Contract writer. Thought it would be lame at first, but it is very real, legal and binding in a court of law. Have used it once with a customer whom tried to take bankruptcy on us immediately after the deck was completed, and due to the wording in the contract for the state of Ohio liens, we won. Anyway, you select your state of main work, and the contract will be printed for that particular state. Each year I renew my separate contracts for Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. The contracts do differ from state to state, as construction law changes from state to state. $99.00 per year to start…you receive a downloadable program, and a disc as well. You fill in your jobsite project description, your payment plan, it also deals with subcontractors, and your warranty. Everything is done for you. The two gentleman that run it really stay on top of the laws, and IF anything is different or not correct, and if you ever have to use it in court, they will stand behind you.

    #402060

    I didn’t know such a thing existed @TaraC , that sounds like a great way to get current and relevant contracts! Can you add your logo to them?

    Andrew

    A Working Pro since 1995!

    Member since March 26, 2014.

    #402070
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    @overanalyze I’m sure you could…I’ve never got that tech savvy. The gentlemen that operate would probably do it for you. Here’s the link
    https://www.craftsman-book.com/books-and-software/contract-writer

    We’ve used it for the 3.5 years, and it has really been a life saver. Once you get the hang of it, it’s takes maybe 20 minutes tops. The biggest thing you, yourself would have to input is the project description. All I do is copy from my estimate that the customer has settled on…down to my HDG screws.

    #402076

    @overanalyze I’m sure you could…I’ve never got that tech savvy. The gentlemen that operate would probably do it for you. Here’s the link
    https://www.craftsman-book.com/books-and-software/contract-writer

    We’ve used it for the 3.5 years, and it has really been a life saver. Once you get the hang of it, it’s takes maybe 20 minutes tops. The biggest thing you, yourself would have to input is the project description. All I do is copy from my estimate that the customer has settled on…down to my HDG screws.

    Thanks Tara. Havn’t looked at it as much as i need to, but the price isn’t bad if they are sound.

    #402084
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    @Siberian you’re very welcome, and they are indeed a reputable company, and have other publications as well that come in handy for the construction world.

    #402085
    jponto07
    Moderator
    Bloomington, IN

    @overanalyze I’m sure you could…I’ve never got that tech savvy. The gentlemen that operate would probably do it for you. Here’s the link
    https://www.craftsman-book.com/books-and-software/contract-writer

    We’ve used it for the 3.5 years, and it has really been a life saver. Once you get the hang of it, it’s takes maybe 20 minutes tops. The biggest thing you, yourself would have to input is the project description. All I do is copy from my estimate that the customer has settled on…down to my HDG screws.

    Something to look into for sure! Thanks Tara.

    Jon P.
    Timber Carpentry & Construction
    https://www.facebook.com/timbercarpentry/
    Instagram

    #402096
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    @jponto07 you’re very welcome!

    #402100
    TonyG
    Pro
    Colorado Springs, CO

    designed our invoice/contracts ourselves and make changes to them as necessary. they are carbon copy we get a copy and the customer keeps a copy. We have a copy that we “red line” with the changes and the next time we need them printed we make the changes.

    #402129
    ChadM
    Moderator
    East Palestine, Ohio

    For a while I used a basic contract I bought at Staples (I think), over the years an attorney friend of mine has added some clauses to it but it is still pretty basic. The biggest part of my contract is usually the scope of work. The most important thing is to make sure your contract meets your states contract laws.

    Chad

    A Working Pro since 1993

    Member since 12/07/2013

    #402133

    For a while I used a basic contract I bought at Staples (I think), over the years an attorney friend of mine has added some clauses to it but it is still pretty basic. The biggest part of my contract is usually the scope of work. The most important thing is to make sure your contract meets your states contract laws.

    Great point Chad. i believe the simpler and easy read as possible. I like little lines next to key points or sections so they can initial that section.

    #402140
    kurt@welkerhomes.com
    Moderator
    Owatonna, MN - Minnesota

    Our state builders association has had contracts and subcontracts created a legal team that are free to use by members. They are good contracts and cover the mandatory state language. The 400 bucks we pay to be a member is very cheap to have access to the contracts and other things they have also.

    #402155
    EthanB
    Pro
    South Kingstown, RI

    It’s worth having one done by a lawyer that is familiar with contract law in your state. Probably $200-500 for one and then you’re as safe as you can be and there’s a lot less room for confusion with your clients. Write up a list of “must have” additions to your contract like a pet clause, default SOW format, default payment procedure, design choice by date, etc. so they’re not starting from scratch and they’ll pull it all together with the appropriate verbiage and clauses.

    I rarely have people complain about having a professional contract but, if they do, I tell them that a good contract protects THEM as much as ME.

    #402172

    Having a lawyer review or write one is a good course of action – you then have recourse if something goes awry. If you try your hand at one, then you might not have recourse if issues arise.

    Orange County, CA

    #403476
    Rob
    Pro
    Birmingham, Alabama

    I got some good advice from a lawyer friend once… (no really, I did)
    I had him look over the contract I was using.
    He said ‘Why do you call this a.. Proposal?’
    (I thought it sounded friendlier so I had changed the heading at some point in the past).
    He said,
    “If it’s a contract then call it a Contract,
    because I am going to defend this with everything I’ve got!”
    That sounded like a good idea so I changed it.

    #403540
    jponto07
    Moderator
    Bloomington, IN

    I got some good advice from a lawyer friend once… (no really, I did)
    I had him look over the contract I was using.
    He said ‘Why do you call this a.. Proposal?’
    (I thought it sounded friendlier so I had changed the heading at some point in the past).
    He said,
    “If it’s a contract then call it a Contract,
    because I am going to defend this with everything I’ve got!”
    That sounded like a good idea so I changed it.

    Makes sense. There’s really no point in trying to mask what the document really is. My partner is dead set on calling a “change order” an addendum…which I think is dumb.

    Jon P.
    Timber Carpentry & Construction
    https://www.facebook.com/timbercarpentry/
    Instagram

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