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.


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.


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.


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.


Dishonest Clients; Collecting the Final Payment

By Michael Stone

How do you deal with a dishonest client? I recently corresponded with a contractor concerning this issue.


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.


Surprises Aren’t

By Michael Stone

Estimate your jobs properly so surprises don’t happen.


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.


Things That Cause Problems, or, How to Upset Your Clients

By Michael Stone

Seven issues that upset clients. And when clients are upset, either you won’t make the sale or you might not get paid.


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.


Making Selections for Their Project

By Michael Stone

If you're a remodeling or new home contractor, how can you get clients to make their selections before you write the contract?  Make it easy for your client.


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.


Remodeling Contracts – Intent to Lien, Payment Schedules

By Michael Stone

Intent to lien – payment schedules – contract language. Common problems contractors experience on jobs.


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.


There is No Industry Standard

By Michael Stone

Don’t take any job where the client tells you how much you can charge for your work.


Guidelines for Success

By Michael Stone

Guidelines to a more successful construction-related business.


Contract Cancellations

By Michael Stone

Cancellations happen, even with the best of salespeople. Clients have all kinds of reasons to cancel an agreement, and you need to be prepared.


Payment Schedules for Cash Flow

By Michael Stone

A good payment schedule keeps you paid for the work you are doing. If you're using a 1/3, 1/3 and 1/3 schedule, you are financing most of the job out of your pocket.


Know Your Cash Flow Needs

By Michael Stone

Contractors have cash flow problems for two major reasons: poor money management, and poor payment schedules.


Cost Plus – A Homeowner’s View

By Michael Stone

A very nice gentleman called me last Friday. He related a story about his home remodeling project. It was done a Cost Plus job, the "plus" was negotiated at 18%.


Transparency

By Michael Stone

Transparency, as I understand it, is opening your books to your potential clients and showing them all the numbers pertaining to a job you are quoting.


Use the Right Payment Schedule

By Michael Stone

If you want positive cash flow in your construction business, make sure you're using the right payment schedule on your contracts.


Character Matters

By Michael Stone

This article was originally published in our newsletter, and it garnered more responses than usual. It was loved and hated, so we are posting it here for more to read.


Sending Invoices for Construction or Handyman Work

By Michael Stone

Invoicing is one way clients delay paying. "Thanks for doing that work, send me an invoice, okay?" Why do contractors agree? Maybe they believe everyone does it.


Set a Payment Schedule, and Keep It

By Michael Stone

Client misunderstandings happen, but there are steps you can take to make sure you are paid in full, on time, and reduce those misunderstandings.


Surprises on a Construction Job

By Michael Stone

A homeowner commented on a forum. He’d been told to add $3 – $5K to a job just to cover the extras that will come up. He was under the impression this is normal.


Get Paid

By Michael Stone

They want to know how to deal with owners who come to them 60%, 70% or 80% of the way through a job and announce they want to re-negotiate the price of the contract.


Answer Questions Before They Get Asked

By Michael Stone

I hope there is an original agreement to go back to. This is a classic case of a contractor either writing an incomplete contract or not writing a contract at all.


Do Construction Jobs Have a Life Expectancy?

By Michael Stone

Does a job have a “life expectancy”? I believe it does and you should be aware of the warning signs.


When You Need an Attorney, Make it a Construction Law Attorney

By Michael Stone

"You overcharged me! I am going to sue your sorry a**." Or, "I bought your house 17 years ago and now the roof is leaking. I am going to sue for everything you've got!"


A Homeowner’s Point of View

By Michael Stone

In case you don’t think it’s important to have change work orders signed and paid BEFORE making a change, read this note I received from a homeowner yesterday:


No More Mr. Nice Guy

By Michael Stone

I took a call from a married contractor with four young children. He can’t collect the final funds due from an owner for a large job. They are about to lose everything.


A Minute With Michael – Working Without a Contract

By Michael Stone

A Minute With Michael – Working Without a Contract (video)


Holding Employees Accountable

By Michael Stone

What do you do when an employee’s work is not up to par and the client complains and will not pay for the work done?


Arbitration on a Construction Project

By Michael Stone

Got a call from a contractor with a legal problem. He got involved with a homeowner who kept adding to a job, then decided the price was too high and they aren’t paying.


Deal with Issues Face-to-Face

By Michael Stone

I heard from a contractor recently who is dealing with a hostile owner who vents via email. That isn’t acceptable behavior, and you don't have to accept it.


Cost Plus (C+) Perspective – Good for a Construction Business?

By Michael Stone

A slightly different perspective on Cost Plus contracts that provides two more good reasons why Cost Plus contracts should be avoided.


Why Should I Make a Down Payment?

By Michael Stone

As a contractor, you need to know that the homeowner is both able and willing to pay for the work being done.


Downpayment on a construction job

By Michael Stone

Got a phone call recently from a contractor doing a job in the $150K range. Everything is fine, contract signed, and the job is going great.


The Danger of Short Contracts

By Michael Stone

I often hear from contractors having problems with their customers. Many of these problems are because of the written contract they use for their jobs.


Why You Need a Well-Written Contract

By Michael Stone

A client decided to change the rules of their contract. She decided not to pay the full amount or on time as the contract specified.


We Like to See The Good Guys Win

By Michael Stone

It was another situation of a homeowner waiting until the job was almost complete, then start playing the "we are not going to pay you because blah, blah, blah."


Contracts in Construction

By Michael Stone

I was talking with a young guy about writing contracts. He’s a small construction company and is convinced he didn't need any "big contract" with lots of pages.


Customer Games with Your Money

By Michael Stone

I believe a majority of the conflicts I …

Customer Games with Your Money Read More »


Write a Clear Contract, Protect Your Assets

By Michael Stone

I am serving as an expert witness this week for a new home builder in our area. There are many issues in this particular case, but there is one overriding problem.


Changing the Payment Schedule – Honor Your Contract

By Michael Stone

A coaching client related how one of his customers arbitrarily decided to change the payment schedule that was clearly written on the contract.


Contracts for Construction Jobs – Even Small Jobs?

By Michael Stone

A question arose this morning on a call from a contractor. Should you write a contract on all the jobs you do, regardless of the size of the job?


Customer Relationships, Payment Schedules for Construction

By Michael Stone

Have you noticed that when you have a solid, well thought out payment schedule and insist your customers abide by that schedule, you have fewer problems?


Business Education and Construction – Willing to Learn

By Michael Stone

At a recent class, I was covering the basics of getting paid for additional work orders. I gave an example to emphasize the necessity of getting paid for your work.


Provide a Service, Make a Profit

By Michael Stone

A young businessman called. He was in a state of shock after checking his books over the weekend and found over $11,000 in receivables, much of it over 30 days.


Cost Plus, Cost+, Time and Materials, T & M

By Michael Stone

A coaching client was working with a potential customer who wanted a remodeling job on a cost plus basis instead of a fixed fee contract.


Proposals for Construction Work

By Michael Stone

Just a quick reminder. Be sure to put a limit on the length of time your proposals are valid. That time should be a maximum of 3 working days, no more.


Contracts for your Construction Company

By Michael Stone

Contracts are what hold a contractor and home or building owner together during the course of a project. Without a good contract you become either a victim or a target.


E-Mail Hostility

By Michael Stone

E-mail is a great tool. But some cowardly homeowners use it to file complaints. They don't understand something so they hit the contractor with a nasty E-mail.


Architects, Payment Schedules in Construction

By Michael Stone

We recently got a call from a young man with a remodeling company in the east. An architect was providing him with a great opportunity and he wanted my opinion.


Your Markup Isn’t Fair!

By Michael Stone

We got a call last week from a company whose customer had arbitrarily decided that the markup used on their job wasn’t fair. This was a Time and Materials job.


Payment Schedules in Construction

By Michael Stone

A question came in this week from a potential coaching client about when to schedule payments on their contracts.


Time and Material Contracts – Price Too High

By Michael Stone

A contractor dealing with a Time and Material Contract is hearing constant complaints about his price. Instead, give a firm fixed price quote upfront.


Progress Payments

By Michael Stone

What do you do when a progress payment from your customer is late?


Consulting about a Remodeling Contractor

By Michael Stone

I do most expert witness work on the side of contractors. However, when I find a contractor who has been dishonest, I go after them with every tool I have.


Time and Material Contracts

By Devon Stone

A few years ago, Michael was part of a discussion on Time & Material contracts. The other speaker was Stephen Eichelberger, a construction attorney from Salem, Oregon.


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