Home improvement contracts are agreements that are typically formed between homeowners and a construction or home development business. They may cover aspects from small home projects like adding a patio, to larger home makeovers such as building another floor in a home.
A contract is generally necessary for various types of home improvement projects, even seemingly smaller ones. This is mainly because most homeowners would expect a home project to be completed within a certain timeframe, and within a specified financial budget.
Some examples of home projects that are the subject of home improvement contracts may include:
- Repair of old or broken structures in the home;
- Installation of new aspects like blinds, windows, doors, flooring, eaves, etc.;
- Tearing down of walls to create bigger rooms or spaces;
- Adding a second floor or story to a home structure;
- Changing of kitchen layouts and installation of new cabinets;
- Work done to improve or add new bathrooms and showers;
- Installation of larger outdoor recreational items like swimming pools or spas; and/or
- Major changes to yard, garden, and driveway layouts
Nearly all types of home improvement project can benefit from a formal contract. Such contracts are common if the repair or work is being done by a company or business that the homeowner has not previously worked with.
It’s generally recommended that the parties use a written contract, regardless of their previous dealings with one another, so that they have written records of the agreement to reference in the future.
In order to be legally enforceable, home improvement contracts need to be satisfy state and local requirements for a valid contract. These generally include: a written document, signatures of all relevant parties and witnesses, and various other requirements based on your local, state laws.
A home improvement will usually contain important information, such as:
- The parties involved in the home improvement project or operation (such as the homeowner and the construction company);
- The names and contact information of the parties;
- The nature of the project being considered;
- Pricing for the materials, labor, and other costs for the project;
- Any deadlines or time frames for the completion of the project;
- Whether the duties can be “assigned” or passed on to another party (such as a subcontractor); and
- What to do in case any legal disputes arise (where to file, whether a lawsuit can be filed, etc.).
Also, some contracts may include a “no-litigation” clause, wherein the parties agree to resolve disputes through negotiations or other resolution methods, rather than a lawsuit. Depending on the nature of the home improvement contract and the needs of each party, these types of clauses may or may not be beneficial, since they can limit the parties’ options and rights in terms of legal remedies.
In the event that a home improvement contract is violated or breached, the non-breaching party can usually recover losses and damages under contract laws, since the agreement is basically a contract. Remedies for a breached home improvement contract can include monetary damages awards for economic losses suffered by the non-violating party.
For many home improvement contract lawsuits, a breach often has to do with a construction team not finishing the project on time, or leaving the job done halfway. In such cases, the non-breaching homeowner may sometimes also be able to recover losses caused by the delays or errors. This may also depend on individual state contract laws regarding contract remedies.
In some cases, a home improvement contract may be the subject of fraud, or it can be used to accomplish home improvement fraud. An example of this is where a construction team uses any form of fraud, misrepresentation, or deceit in relation to the contract. This can involve many different aspects, including the timing/deadlines for the project, the quality of materials used, and/or the amount charged in for the completion of the project.
In other cases, the fraud may have to do with the company or the workers themselves. For instance, if a home improvement company makes any misrepresentations regarding their credentials, licensing, or background, and it causes damage to the other party, they might be held liable for contract fraud. These can depend on state laws as well as individual rules in each jurisdiction.
Home improvement contracts can be of great assistance when it comes to various types of home projects. They can help to keep both parties legally accountable by creating a written record of the terms and details of the project.
Home improvement contracts work best if they are written very clearly and reviewed by an experienced lawyer. Also, it’s in your best interests to contact a qualified real estate lawyer in your area; in the event that a lawsuit arises over a contract, your attorney can research relevant state laws for your claim.