1. California Home Improvement Contracts

      We can agree that consumer protection laws serve a useful purpose. But laws too complex invite evasion. California’s home improvement contracting law is a poster child for that proposition. Most contractors don’t comply simply because they can’t figure out what the law requires. California’s CSLB assesses fines (“civil penalties”) against contractors who don’t comply – but does very little to make compliance easy. Continue reading →
  2. Do CM Contractors Need a License?

      Last month I listed advantages of construction management (CM) contracting over traditional general contracting. For example, construction contracting is a highly regulated occupation – liens, payments, codes, inspections, bonding, insurance, etc. CM contractors avoid most of these headaches. But if your state requires construction contractors to be licensed, do CM contractors need a license? Continue reading →
  3. Paper Contracting

      When you hear the term paper contractor, it’s usually in the context of someone being “only” or “just” a paper contractor. I believe this prejudice against general contractors working as consultants is breaking down. And for good reason. Continue reading →
  4. Green Construction Contracts

      If you haven’t been asked to sign a “green” construction contract yet, I expect it will happen in 2011.     LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards encourage conservation of resources through better design and construction of commercial and residential buildings. LEED is a voluntary program. But about a quarter of all construction now incorporates LEED standards. California’s new Green Building Code (effective 1/1/11) is sure to raise that percentage.   Continue reading →
  5. Prompt Payment on Construction Contracts

      On January 1, 2011, Arizona will join a growing list of states that offer an effective remedy against slow payment on private construction contracts and subcontracts. If you build in Arizona, or in any of the other states with a prompt payment statute, you should understand how to preserve and enforce payment rights.   Continue reading →
  6. Down Payments on Residential Jobs

      Nine states place limits or impose restrictions on advance payments for some types of residential construction. If you have jobs in any of these nine states, you walk a fine line when asking for a down payment: Arizona, California, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada (pools only) Pennsylvania and Tennessee.   Continue reading →
  7. A.I.A. Construction Contracts: Beware

      What’s wrong with A.I.A. contracts? Nothing, unless you’re a construction contractor. I’ll explain.     The A.I.A. published their first “standard” construction contract in 1888. As a construction contractor, you’ve probably seen several A.I.A. contracts. Go to the A.I.A. site and you’ll discover that A.I.A. contracts are “accepted, reliable, fair and flexible.” Fine. But here’s what the A.I.A. doesn’t explain. A.I.A. construction contracts don’t comply with either state or federal disclosure law. In most states and for most jobs, a contractor who works under an A.I.A. contract risks serious legal trouble. Continue reading →
  8. Change Orders: Get Paid for Extra Work

      Has there ever been a construction project that didn’t require at least one change?     A contractor can go an entire career without seeing a job like that. And for good reason. Construction is too permanent and too expensive to resist making a change when the need is obvious. Take this as carved in granite: Changes are endemic to construction. That’s not going to change. Accept it. Welcome it! Changes should be a profit center for construction contractors. I’ll offer seven rules designed to make that happen.   Continue reading →
  9. Time and Materials Home Improvement Contracts

      Many home improvement contractors prefer to work under time and material (cost-plus) contracts. And for good reason. Surprises are common when remodeling or repairing an existing dwelling. With a cost-plus contract, a contractor doesn't have to absorb the loss if there's a surprise once work gets started.     But there's a problem. Six states require that home improvement contracts show a total cost for the work in dollars and cents:   Continue reading →
  10. Home Improvement Contracting in Indiana

      All states tip the playing field in favor of property owners who contract for residential work. Nearly every state requires very specific notices and disclosures in residential construction contracts. Even the slightest defect in an agreement can have consequences – fines, revocation of a license, charges for attorney fees, no right to collect or even jail time. All of these penalties fall on the contractor. The property owner gets a free ride.   Continue reading →

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