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What to Look Out for Before Signing a Renovation Contract
Just like purchasing a house or getting hitched, renovating your home is big commitment that takes tons of effort, time and money.
And with all huge investments - words and good faith are never enough! Perhaps you've heard of horror stories or listened to complaints; a renovation can go terribly awry if designers and homeowners don't agree on the same terms and works done.
Interior Designer: The Roof Studio
That’s why a written contract is an absolute must when it comes to major or even small-scale home improvement projects! But trouble is – how do you read them? Before you sign on the dotted line, here are 5 key things to look out for in a written agreement with an interior design firm or contractor:
*Note: Though these 5 points are included in most contracts, there may be differences in the way each interior designer/contractor formats out their contracts. The examples listed here are for reference only.
1. The Scope of Works
This section of your renovation contract will contain the largest chunk of information. It outlines the types of works to be completed, the materials used as well as the expected quality of completed projects.
A renovation contract should tell you what works are included (or excluded) plus outline the tasks or materials that the contractor or design team will not be providing. However, not all agreements will include a section like this, but if yours does, read through it carefully to avoid dissatisfaction with the finished work.
2. Pricing and Contract Sum
Along with a compilation of tasks to be completed, the scope of works may also list the pricing - which you may find on a separate document or on the side of each work listed.
We can't stress enough - always read the fine print when it comes to pricing! Remember, though it may be a contract sum, that does not represent the full amount to be paid. Look out for a disclaimer in the invoice that mentions they are estimates - that means changes to the design, extension of work durations and other delays (not caused by the contractor) may increase the final price.
3. Permissions and Responsibilities
Also, if you live in a condo or gated community, there may certain rules imposed on how and when renovation can be carried out. Work permits, passes and identification may be required prior to entry. Thus, this part of the contract will define whose responsibility it is to ensure the proper documentation is provided.
Depending on your agreement, these responsibilities can fall to either party. The homeowner may grant access to the contractor and design firm to deal with building managers (of the condo or gated residence) on their behalf. The contractor may also be tasked with getting the necessary permits from municipal councils. Otherwise, the homeowners may have to take the duty to seek approvals.
Interior Designer: Torch Empire
4. The Payment Schedule
We all know renovations are costly work - and most interior designers practice progressive payments, where homeowners pay in instalments throughout the entire duration of the renovation. The contract is also where the payment times are broken down in a schedule, such as this below.
Beware of shady contractors or firms that quote up to 50% of the total contract sum as downpayment; the norm is 15% - 20% (sometimes up to 30%) as a non-refundable confirmation fee. Always clarify the initial percentage with your ID, and be doubly sure that you'd want to commit with a particular design firm before paying!
5. Warranty, Defect and Maintenance
Lastly, the contract will also list out a warranty or defects period that homeowners can bring up to the ID or contractor to rectify if any problems occur after the renovation.
A typical renovation warranty usually lasts at least 12 months from the date of completion. For furniture and smaller fittings, the warranty period may be shorter; from three to six months.
Defects period after a renovation listed in the contract.
There may also be external warranties and complimentary maintenance for things like full carpeting, flooring (for defects or a warranty for scratches or staining), wallpaper and appliances. Take note of these timelines - so if anything crops up, you'll know who to call!