Why Do You Need a Written Construction Contract?

By Michael Stone

Almost all conflicts contractors face could be avoided or quickly resolved if there is a clear, detailed construction contract between the parties.


The Skinny on Change Work Orders

By Michael Stone

A compendium on change work orders on a new home, remodeling or renovation project; why they matter, how to price them, what to include, and more.


Cost Plus Contract, Time and Material Contract

By Michael Stone

Why cost plus and time & material contracts should be avoided, for both contractors and building owners.


Unclear Change Work Orders

By Michael Stone

Pricing changes for a change work order isn’t easy when the scope of work isn’t clear.


Time and Material Woes

By Michael Stone

Time and Material contracts are full of risk, especially on larger jobs.


Business or Charity?

By Michael Stone

If you’re a business owner and take on a project out of the goodness of your heart, recognize you might not get paid and will be funding the project.


Payment Methods

By Michael Stone

I don’t think writing a check is old fashioned, but there are so many advantages to using a credit or debit card that it’s become the preferred payment method for many.


Protect Your Time

By Michael Stone

Some people are used to snapping their fingers and having others jump. It’s irritating, but you have to remember that they’re writing the checks.


Clear Sales Communication; It’s Your Responsibility

By Michael Stone

I want to share a recent phone conversation with a contractor concerning a problem they were having with a client.


Protecting Yourself from the Protector

By Michael Stone

I’m not a fan of working with government agencies, but some situations are unique.


Final Payments and Guarantees

By Michael Stone

When clients try to change the terms of the contract, you don’t have to go along.


Contract Language That Puts You at Risk

By Michael Stone

Over the years, I’ve seen contract language evolve, shifting more and more responsibility to general and specialty contractors.


Handyman vs Service Agreement

By Michael Stone

Is it a good idea to have a service agreement to cover small jobs under a certain amount?


Protect Your Business – Get Paid

By Michael Stone

Avoid losing money by recognizing some of the games that building owners play to avoid paying.


Protect Your Business – Change Work Orders

By Michael Stone

Michael discusses a ploy some building owners use to not pay for all of their change work orders. It happens in both residential and commercial projects.


Overhead and Profit on Change Orders

By Michael Stone

You shouldn’t sign a contract that stipulates what you can charge, even if it’s just on the change orders.


Design Agreements Gone Awry

By Michael Stone

We discussed design agreements last week; today we’re going to look at them from another angle. The first step is setting the budget with the client.


Protecting Design Work

By Michael Stone

A contractor who has designed projects asked how to protect his design work.


Dodging Payment

By Michael Stone

There are things you can and should do when a client tries to dodge making payments.


Pricing Handyman and Service Work

By Michael Stone

There are two schools of thought on pricing handyman projects and service work: T&M or flat rate pricing. They both have advantages and disadvantages.


Quality Standards

By Michael Stone

“Let’s see what the contract says about that.”


Dishonest Clients

By Michael Stone

We often hear from contractors dealing with a client who, for whatever reason, has decided to change the terms of their contract. Other professionals have the same problem.


Collecting Payment from a Dishonest Homeowner – Updated

By Michael Stone

Not all of your clients are honest. There are even a few who have no intention of paying you for the work you do.


Cost Plus with a “Not to Exceed”

By Michael Stone

A contractor asked for my opinion on a request he recently received. It’s not a win-win proposition.


Let Them Know What to Expect

By Michael Stone

If you’re doing service work, make sure your client knows what to expect before you start.


Cancelled Design Agreements

By Michael Stone

A call came in from a friend recently. It seems that a client of his wants to cancel a signed design agreement.


Clients Changing the Contract

By Michael Stone

I’ve written before about clients who decide to make changes to a contract. Last week I heard from two different contractors who had to deal with this, and I want to share their stories.


Mediation or Arbitration?

By Michael Stone

Your contract should call for arbitration, not mediation, to settle disputes.


Client Causing Job Delays

By Michael Stone

If you want to lose money on a job, agree to let your client do part of the job or provide their own materials without setting clear boundaries.


Right of Rescission

By Michael Stone

When I’m working with a group of contractors, I often ask how many are providing a Right of Rescission form with their contracts. Many contractors aren’t even aware of the document or realize its importance.


Allowances in Your Pricing

By Michael Stone

There isn’t one right way to handle allowance items that works for all contractors and all clients. Plan A may work for most clients, but then you meet Mrs. Oddball who seems to work at being difficult. So you derive Plan B and hope it works.


Clients Wanting Cost Plus

By Michael Stone

Many building owners want a Cost Plus contract because they believe they’ll have more control over the total cost of the project. It’s your job to educate them on the downside.


Maintaining Your Right to Lien

By Michael Stone

At least once a week I hear from someone who can’t get paid for work they’ve done.


Documenting Jobs

By Michael Stone

There are two benefits to documenting your jobs. One is protecting yourself in case there is a disagreement about the project. The other is providing information that will help you when you’re promoting your business.


Itemization Woes

By Michael Stone

We’d like to share an email received from an anonymous homeowner. If you believe that it’s smart to provide an itemized invoice, this will make you reconsider.


Payment Schedules on Small Jobs

By Michael Stone

It’s important to manage the payment schedule on your jobs, but not all jobs are the same.


Design Agreements, Letters of Intent

By Michael Stone

A design agreement allows you to get paid for your work. Don’t waste your effort or your time.


A Few More Contract Issues

By Michael Stone

Retainage clauses, removing the finance charge clause on the last payment, “we’ll pay you when we get paid”.  


Contract Language for Client-Caused Damage

By Michael Stone

What do you do when a client calls about a problem they created? Preventative measures make the difference between a profitable job and losses.


Business Protection for Contractors

By Michael Stone

The popular belief is that contractors are the villains and homeowners are the victims.  But if you’ve worked with the public for very long you know there are also dishonest clients.


Final Payments, Emailed Quotes

By Michael Stone

Never let your final payment exceed 2% of the sales price. And your contract should include a finance charge clause for payments not made on time.


Progress Payments: Keeping a Positive Cash Flow

By Michael Stone

We used to get three payments on jobs. 1/3, 1/3, 1/3. That’s not a smart business practice.


Money Changing Hands

By Michael Stone

It's easy to ask someone to do something; it's harder to hand over money. Your client isn't committed until they've written the first check.


Enforcing Your Payment Schedule

By Michael Stone

If I were to catalog incoming phone calls by topic, I’d guess at least half of them have to do with collecting payment on jobs. What do you do when they won’t pay?


Getting Paid

By Michael Stone

If the payment schedule is adjusted after you’ve started a job and they aren’t willing to pay what’s owed, file liens. You must protect your right to be paid.


When Clients Do an End Run

By Michael Stone

Stay ahead of your clients. Write a detailed contract that protects you from as many unpleasant scenarios as possible, and work from written agreements with both your subcontractors and your employees. 


Contract or No Contract?

By Michael Stone

Without hesitation, a large majority of cases I’ve worked on could have been prevented, and should have been prevented, with a well written contract.


Contracts, Change Work Orders, Punch Lists and More

By Michael Stone

A selection of issues that should be written into every contract to protect your profitability.


Contracts to Avoid

By Michael Stone

If you are going to deviate from a standard fixed price contract, look at your approach from your client’s point of view. Make sure they know what to expect and what you’ll do.


Contract Commitment Language

By Michael Stone

Commitment language in your contracts, payment schedules that help cash flow, right of rescission language. With a few extra comments.


Contracts – Dates, Times, Conferences

By Michael Stone

Many construction-related disputes can be avoided with a well written contract. Here are a few of the things that need to be included.


Resolving Disagreements

By Michael Stone

When a job goes bad, the contract is front and center. If you don't have a dispute resolution procedure defined, you're probably looking at a lawsuit.


We Want To See Your Receipts

By Michael Stone

What if you agreed on a price, now customer wants all receipts for material? Without a clearly written fixed price contract, it's a problem waiting to happen.


A Poorly Written Contract Will Cost You Money

By Michael Stone

Too many contractors use a poorly-written construction contract, or no contract at all, leading to different interpretations of an issue.


Specifics on Change Work Orders

By Michael Stone

Last week we discussed having signed Change Work Orders (or Additional Work Orders). Today we’ll discuss 4 mistakes often made when writing Change Work Orders.


Every Little item

By Michael Stone

An example of what transparency does for your business. If clients want the details (i.e., itemization), then provide those details but charge for them.


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