Man signing a contract

A Contractor’s Contract: Tips for Spotting Integrity and Honesty

When you’re planning to build your dream home or give your existing home a new look, you want to hire a contractor with construction knowledge and experience and professional integrity and honesty. Hiring the right person for the job can have a huge impact on the success of your project. Before you begin any work, consider some important tips that will ensure a good outcome.

Look for a Reputable Professional

You will likely find numerous architects, builders, and contractors in your area, but they may offer very different services when it comes to quality, integrity, and honesty. Look for a reputable, dependable professional with experience and client references. You may be working closely together on your project for a long time, so choose someone you actually like and trust.

Hire a Licensed and Insured Contractor

In most states, a contractor is required to have a professional contractor’s license to perform construction work within the state. To get the license, a contractor must pass an exam and abide by local city or state laws pertaining to insurance and taxes. A contractor’s license indicates credibility and ensures that city and state regulations are being met.

A professional contractor will be insured and bonded to protect himself and company workers from liability. If a contractor carries professional liability insurance and workers compensation insurance, you will be protected if injuries occur on the job. Without proper insurance, you could be sued by a construction worker if he/she suffers injuries while on your property.

Get a Written Contract

Although a written contract may feel a little threatening, it actually protects both the homeowner and the contractor. Even under the best of circumstances, project details discussed in an oral contract or friendly conversations on site can easily be misinterpreted or forgotten by either party over time. A written contract should outline important job details such as:

  • Budget – Shows the overall, proposed budget figure for the job. There may also be a clause for a percentage allowance in case the job runs over budget.
  • Scope of Services – Outlines the services that your contractor will and will not perform. This eliminates any confusion or questions on work to be done.
  • Materials and Labor – Outlines homeowner/contractor responsibilities for furnishing materials and labor on the job.
  • Job Time Frame – Indicates the start date, duration, and completion date of the construction project.
  • Payment Terms – Indicates the required initial deposit to begin work; and payment terms for the duration of the project.

A written contract will require your signature, so make sure you read it thoroughly before you sign it. Your signature will indicate that you agree with everything in the contract. If you don’t, and you want to make changes, ask your contractor to rewrite the contract or add an addendum that outlines changes, then initial the changes to show you agree.

Note Exclusions

Include a list of exclusions in your written contract. These might be related to areas that are not visible until demolition is done or walls are opened up. This may include unforeseen electrical or plumbing repairs, asbestos found behind walls, or expected clean-up when work is completed. You may need to establish a contingency budget for unforeseen circumstances.

Schedule a Project Timeline

When you hire an architect or contractor, schedule a timeline for your project as accurately as possible. Although construction projects often take longer than expected due to changes, problems getting materials, and unforeseen circumstances, monitor the job progress and try to stay on schedule. It’s important that your contractor finishes the job on time, per your contract agreement.

If you enjoyed this blog you may want to read our blog about, “What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Design-Build Team.”

Smith Brothers is a unique team of construction craftsmen, architects, and interior designers. Since 1978, we stress the absolute highest levels of quality, performance, value and service in each and every project. Our award-winning design ideas, expertise, and collective experience allow us to provide the very best in what we do. For more information please contact us at 877-230-0333, (+01) 858-350-1445, or


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