1. Change Orders You Can Believe In

    A contractor I know took on a small job at a popular ski resort in Colorado a few years ago. The owner of a chalet wanted a new sundeck, plus some interior work in an unfinished basement — a few week’s work. My contractor friend wrote up a bid, offered his usual agreement, got the […]

  2. Contracting on a Handshake

    “I do business on a handshake – never use a written contract. I know that’s not legal. But I do whatever my customers want. I’ve never had a problem. But I keep my fingers crossed.” Maybe you’ve heard a contractor make a claim like that. Is there anything wrong with 100% satisfied customers? I admire the […]

  3. Making Nice with Sandy

    If you’ve never had an insurance repair job, that’s likely to change in 2013. Contractors along the entire eastern seaboard and as far west as Wisconsin and Michigan are about to get an introduction to insurance repair work. But along with the opportunity comes a problem, as described in an email I received this morning: […]

  4. Changes in Construction Contract Law

    Twenty-five states have made changes in the last few months. Highlights follow. As you read down the list, keep a tally. How many of these changes make it easier to do business as a construction contractor? Alabama – Owners have ten days to cancel residential roofing repair contracts if any part of the insurance claim […]

  5. Storm Damage Repair in Thirteen States

    This isn’t about what happened on October 29. It’s about another storm, the rising tide of states that regulate contracts for repair of storm damage. A little more than a year ago, no state had special rules for insurance repair contracts. Now there are thirteen (by date enacted): May 24, 2011– Minnesota Statutes § 326B.811 […]

  6. Construction Contractor or Consultant?

    Change is inevitable, even in the construction industry. One of those changes is construction consulting, sometimes called CM (construction management) consulting – or CM for short. Veteran builders will remember a time when residential contractors did most framing and finishing with their own crews. Today, a residential contractor with payroll is the exception. Most let […]

  7. Employee or Subcontractor?

    Every contractor understands the advantage of getting work done with subs rather than employees. Employees come with headaches like payroll taxes (F.I.C.A., F.U.T.A., S.U.I), employee insurance, fringe benefits and overtime. Collectively, those add about one-third to labor cost. With subcontractors, you simply write a check payable to the sub. No withholding tax. No fringe benefits. […]

  8. Time and Material Construction Contracts

    Many contractors prefer time and material (cost-plus) contracts. And for good reason. With T&M;, you’re sure to recover expenses and earn a profit. There’s no dispute about the cost of changes. Work can start before design is complete. The job gets done just the way the owner wants – and at the owner’s expense. What […]

  9. Construction Contract Law Gibberish

    The law in most states puts residential contractors at a disadvantage. Omit a required notice or disclosure and your contract is probably unenforceable (at best) and could earn you a fine (or worse). That’s called consumer protection law. No use complaining. It’s not going away. To help protect consumers, several states require that contracts be […]

  10. Waiving the 3-Day Right to Cancel

    Every residential contractor knows about an owner’s 3-day right to cancel, sometimes called the Reg Z notice. Any time you do work on the principal residence of an owner (whether new construction, improvement or repair) you have to: Give each owner two copies of the notice. Show on each form the date the right to […]

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