Getting Through Your Remodeling Project
What types of payment terms are fair?
Payment terms are important for both parties. You have to handle the payments appropriately, giving the contractor reason to work in a timely fashion and to keep the project running smoothly. That said, steer clear of paying anyone much more than they have performed.
Typically for smaller projects ($10,000 and under) you can pay in 3 payments: 1/3 down, 1/3 mid-way and 1/3 upon completion.
Larger projects can be billed in several different ways including;
- 3 payment system (1/3 down, 1/3 mid-way and 1/3 upon completion)
- Progress payments (specific day of the month at a percentage rate of completion)
- Time and Material (being billed at a specific hourly rate with material billed at a set percentage over invoice)
When should the final payment be made?
Final payment should be paid when the project is complete. It’s that simple. Problems can arise from the contractor receiving final payment too quickly, before your project is actually finished, leaving you frustrated and upset. On the other hand, don’t make your contractor wait to see if there is a problem with the work before you make your final payment. This is warrantied work and should be treated as such. Go over the project and warranty with the contractor before final payment is made. Discuss any concerns regarding work or workmanship and/or areas left unfinished. Make a list of the items to be finished or touched up. This is called a punch-list. Get the following items from the Final Payment Checklist done before issuing a check!
Final Payment Checklist:
* All project items are complete.
* All punch-list items are done or agreed upon.
* Warranty information, pamphlets, etc. are in hand and all items are understood.
* Collect all final lien waivers for payments to the contractor and sub-contractors for their work.
* Certificate of Completion form executed. (See Below)
Now you can make the final payment! Your warranty(s) will start on the date of your Certificate of Completion.
What is a Punch List?
A punch list is generally a list of tasks or “to-do” items. In the U.S. construction industry, a punch list is the name of a contract document used in the architectural and building trades to organize the completion of a construction project.
Contract agreements are sometimes written to allow the owner to withhold (retain) a small percentage of the final payment to the general contractor as "retainage”. The contractor is bound by the contract to complete a punch list of uncompleted contract items in order to receive final payment from the owner. Example:
- Minor crack repair in new tile grout
- Miscellaneous spot painting
- Need remote garage door openers for new garage doors
- Window in bedroom opens too hard
What should you know about warranties?
Warranties vary state by state. In regard to the contractor's work, the warranty period should be written into the Terms and Conditions portion of your contract. One year is usually fair and standard. Some contractors may offer longer warranties based on the confidence in their work.
Materials used for your project also vary so pay attention to your Manufacturer’s Product Warranties. Discuss these with your contractor when choosing products. For example, roofing shingles can come with 20, 25, and 30- year manufacturer’s warranty. Boilers, water heaters, stoves and other appliances all have item specific warranties. Collect all warranty information regarding the products used on your project from the contractor before project closeout.
Keep all warranty information, brochures and pamphlets, and store them with your records. This information tells you the length of time, what’s covered, what isn’t, how to register your product(s), product care, and how to process a claim against the warranty.
What is a Certificate of Completion? Do you need this?
Yes. The Certificate of Final Completion is used to certify that the construction project is complete and is ready for final payment. A Contractor and customer may also use this to document the acceptance of the final work and the start date of the warranty period on the project. Upon issuance of this Certificate, the Contract shall be deemed to be completed.
Developing a schedule and a project timeline.
A schedule consists of a list of your project’s elements with intended start and finish dates. Before a project schedule can be created, the schedule maker should have the work broken down in an effort to estimate each task (example; Kitchen, flooring, paint, heat), and a resource list with availability for each resource. The reason for this is that a schedule itself is an estimate: each date in the schedule is estimated, and if those dates do not have the buy-in of the people who are going to do the work, the schedule will be inaccurate.
- Keep track of scheduled items weekly and update.
- Coordinate all your responsibilities, communicate and document.
- Are all key items ordered?
- Make sure everyone buys into their part.