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Signing the contract for your kitchen

Signing the contract for your kitchen

A contract is a written, signed a legal agreement between you and a kitchen contractor; it specifies the work to be done, the amount to be paid and the responsibilities of both parties. Contracts protect each of you in case there are misunderstandings during and after construction. Although it's common to hire contractors on the basis of a handshake and verbal promise, it can lead to problems.

Drawing up a contract doesn't need to be complicated. Most remodelling professionals have standard contracts that they use. For a sample kitchen contract, you can use as a model for your own. You may want to have an attorney check the document before you sign it. A contract for a remodelling project should include:

 Description of work. Include a complete list of the work to be done. Also, include your home address even if plans and specifications documents are attached to the contract.

 Building permits. Specify whether you or the contractor will be responsible for getting the necessary permits. It's usually best to have the contractor take responsibility for the permits and reviews by the building inspector.

 Start and completion date. State dates clearly and specifies what would be considered legitimate grounds for delaying the schedule. Include the time needed for final inspection, and "make-good" time set aside for the contractor to fix any problems. Some contractors will baulk at committing to a firm completion date, so it's wise to build some flexibility into the wording of the contract.

 Price. Clearly, state the specific dollar amount you'll be charged for the work. If the contractor has agreed to a reduced price because you're planning to do some of the work, make sure the contract defines your responsibilities.

 Payment schedule. Indicate the amount and the due date of each payment to the contractor. A "good faith" initial down payment of 10% to 15% of the total is customary. Another payment is often scheduled about halfway through the project. The final payment should be paid only after the work passes a final inspection. This last payment should be at least 15% of the total; never pay all the money before all the work is completed and approved.

 Change-over clause. Make provision for any changes you may order during construction. Change orders may occur simply because you change your mind, or due to unforeseen circumstances discovered during the course of construction. The contract should state the rate at which any extra labor will be charged and the maximum percentage by which the contractor can increase the fees for labor and materials required to make these changes-a markup of 10% to 15% is considered reasonable.

ln addition, it should specify the changes to the project and resulting charges be summarized in a "change order" and signed by both the homeowner and the contractor.

 Cleanup. Specify who is responsible for debris removal and final cleanup.