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What are Home Improvement Contracts?

Home improvement contracts are agreements that are formed between a homeowner and a construction or development business.  They may cover anything from small home projects to larger home makeovers. 

A contract is usually necessary for home improvement projects, even smaller ones.  This is mainly because most homeowners expect the project to be completed before a certain deadline, and within a specific financial budget. 

Some examples of projects that are the subject of home improvement contracts may include:

  • Repair of old or broken structures
  • Installation of new windows, doors, flooring, eaves, etc.
  • Tearing down of walls to create bigger spaces
  • Adding a second story to the home
  • Changing of kitchen layouts, installation of new cabinets
  • Work done to improve bathrooms and showers
  • Installation of larger recreational items like swimming pools
  • Major changes to yards and gardens

Nearly any type of home improvement project may require a contract.  Such contracts are common if the work is being done by company or business that the homeowner has never worked with.  However, it’s generally recommended that the parties use a written contract regardless of their previous dealings with one another.

What is Usually Contained in a Home Improvement Contract?

In order to be enforceable under law, home improvements need to be created in a way that follows state and local contract requirements.  These may include: a written document, signatures of the parties and witnesses, and other requirements. 

A home improvement usually contains important information, such as: 

  • The parties involved in the home improvement project (such as the home owner and the construction company)
  • The names and contact information of such 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 sub-contractor)
  • What to do in case any legal disputes arise

Also, some contracts include a “no-litigation” clause, wherein the parties agree to resolve disputes through negotiations rather than a lawsuit.  Depending on the nature of the project, these types of clauses may or may not be beneficial, since they can limit the parties’ options in terms of legal remedies.

What if a Home Improvement Contract is Violated?

If a home improvement contract is violated, the non-breaching party can usually recover losses under contract laws, since the agreement is basically a contract.  Remedies can include monetary damages awards for economic losses suffered by the non-violating party. 

In many home improvement contracts, a breach often has to do with the construction team not being able to finish the job on time, or leaving the job done halfway.  In such cases, the non-breaching home owner may sometimes be able to recover losses caused by such delays or errors.  This may also depend on individual state contract laws.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With a Home Improvement Contract?

Home improvement contract can be of much help when it comes to various types of projects.  They can also keep both parties accountable by creating a written record of the terms and details of the project.  Home improvement contracts work best if they are clearly written and reviewed by an experienced lawyer.  Also, it’s in your best interests to contact a qualified real estate lawyer in the event that a lawsuit arises over a contract.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 04-17-2018 08:25 PM PDT

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