If you’d rather invest your money in Italian tile and other goodies, learn how to read and rejigger construction contracts yourself, so you can get the best work from a contractor. Here’s how.

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Check Contract Basics

The basic job of a contractor agreement is to spell out the scope of the project’s work. This is the document you and your contractor will consult throughout the job, so make sure it’s as clear and detailed as possible.

A thorough contract is filled with numbers and stipulations that will probably take several hours to review, so leave enough time to go through it before signing. The contract should state:

  • That the contractor will secure all necessary permits and approvals.
  • What the payment schedule will be.
  • Start and end dates for the project.

The contract needn’t contain product specs on its pages. Instead, it may refer to the contractor’s attached, itemized bid.

Some states require the contractor to write his license number on the document and to include a clause that allows you to rescind within a certain time period after signing, usually one to three days. Check your state laws to learn what your construction contract should contain.

Set a Payment Schedule
Schedule Start and End Dates
Specify Change Orders
Research Your Arbitration Options
Turn Down the Contractor’s Warranty