Monthly Archives: April 2016

Signed contracts are best for everyone

Just today I sent a 5th revision of a proposal for work to a prospective customer. This process started 7 weeks ago when I got an phone call from someone who found us on Angie’s List. It started with a simple request for framing and sheathing and setting of windows using owner supplied materials. Dave reviewed 11×17 plans and we prepared an initial proposal 2 days later.

Then nothing. Radio silence.

So 3 weeks after I followed up with an email to see if this was still a possible job for spring.

2 weeks later we got a yes we are still interested but here’s the change of the scope of work. Then the multiple revisions and changes started.

(Make note we have not been paid anything or even definitively given this job. Considering how the scope of work has changed they have been giving others lots of the work we proposed to do for them so it is far from a certainty that we will be doing this or any work for them.)

Now we have a problem. Our spring calendar has filled up with customers who have signed their proposals and given deposits.  And this person still wants another revision to the proposal. We may not have time to do this job. Sub-contractors have taken other jobs. Fear of social media may force us make room to do this job.  But this constant going back and forth without declaring that we have the job is crap shoot for us. We have spend $100’s in time & paperwork and still don’t “have” the job. When we give proposals we really spell out the work and costs. There are no hidden costs. Very few jobs have an extra bill and then it’s because the owner changed something, not because it wasn’t on the proposal. One of the parts of the proposal is a time frame for the scope of work. In looking at all of the signed proposal’s we can work out a master schedule. And this spring we are getting filled up fast.

It a starts with an estimate. That’s a ballpark number based on scope of work and may be based on plans.  A Proposal is a detailed scope of work based on the plans with costs, most time broken into phases. It usually includes a payment schedule and time frame for work. Once a proposal is accepted we draw up a Contract. Contracts are drawn after we have an accepted estimate or proposal. There it spells out the specifics on liability and is legally binding for all parties. These are signed by all parties. The more we spell out on paper the fewer discussions needed about what is exactly being done for the money.

So a signed contract insures both the customer and the contractor that this job will be done at the price agreed upon. Once it’s signed we can all more forward confident with a schedule. Nice weather can make jobs start early as does bad weather delay work. But get your signed contracts in early to guarantee start dates. Delaying to nickel and dime the price can cost you the entire job. Not to say you have to take the initial proposal with no questions but you either trust the contractor or not. Do you due diligence in vetting the contractor and once you get multiple proposals make a choice and sign them up. Spring is the prime time to set the schedule for everyone.

Sign your contract and let’s get started!