Do I always need a Contract?
The Short answer is YES. But let me let you know why it is advisable to ALWAYS have a contract , no matter how small the job is. The contract will protect both the home owner or General Contractor and the Sub- contractor in case of a dispute. Even if you are already best friends and you feel one party would never cheat the other, the contract is necessary. Its not about trust or cheating , its about communication. The contract sets out the way the job is to be done , the price and payment schedules, as well as any other terms and conditions. Without these terms in writing and signed by both parties any dispute no matter how minor can turn into a disaster. I live in a small town where a handshake still means something and against my own judgement I have forgone a contract. It does not work. Just recently I was in a dispute with a home owner who said I promised a stone column on the back porch when he specifically told us he wanted only the front porch done. I had no contract so I ate $600. If I had a contract It would have said 5 stone columns on the front porch and then if he decided differently he would have had to pay the extra. A contract ensures that both parties know exactly what is being provided at a specific price. Contracts should be as detailed as possible so that both parties know what will be done and how it will be done. A clause stating that changes require a written change order signed by both parties is important. Finally a warranty and/or disclaimer should be written into the contract. Disclaimers protect the contractor from having to pay for damages that are beyond his control. An example of this is our brick and stone disclaimer stating that natural stone products and some brick, vary in texture and size which is beyond our control. Some brick will also change colour with age or varying seasons. Without the disclaimer a home owner may not understand this and inadvertently blame the contractor. Home owners and GC's are protected through your contract as well , in that you have a contractor that is less likely to do a bad job or one that gets halfway done and walks off leaving you to have to possibly pay more for someone else to finish. You will also know what to expect from your contractor. With a well written , thorough contract , you are well on your way to a good relationship between contractor and home owner or GC.