I’ve talked about the need for a contract, and the importance of a clear payment schedule. Now we’ll discuss the parts of a contract – because without a well-written, clear contract, you’re headed for trouble.
Contracts should have three parts. The first part is the information section, listing the client’s info and your info. This section should conclude with a brief description of the job.
The second part of the contract, the body, should include all the details of the job. This means a general description of each assembly of work, including dimensions, makes, models, colors, material and installed allowance amounts and any other pertinent information that removes any gray areas about the work to be done.
The third and last section is all the legalese, along with the language that is required by your local, state and federal government to “dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s.” The legalese talks about what you will or won’t do. A good example is explaining how change work orders and your punch list are to be handled during the job. You also talk about the client’s responsibilities and what they are expected to do and things they are not to do. A good example is language that tells clients they need to keep friends, family, visitors, neighbors and anyone else they can think of out of the work areas until the job is completed. And language that specifically states that if a client has a problem or complaint, it will be handled in person, not by email, phone call or fax. Some clients get real brave behind a keyboard and arguments can turn into fights very quickly. All complaints are made in person.
Lastly, you need to be sure that the details about money, which includes the down payments, progress payments, final payments, financing, etc. is on the last page just above the signature lines. All too often, we see contracts with money talk spread out all over the contract. This is a problem because clients who don’t want to pay you will claim they didn’t know what the payment schedule was, they didn’t understand the total cost, etc., because the only page you can prove they saw was the signature page. Hay and horse pucky I know, but I have heard them do it in court.
Three parts, detailed. Now both you and your client know what you’re supposed to do.
See Also – Fast Track Proposal Writer