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.
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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.
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
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.
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:
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.
Not many residential contractors think of themselves as door-to-door salespeople. But the law in most states puts nearly all residential contractors in the home solicitation sales business.
"So what," you say. "I'm not doing anything shady. I deliver real value and have nothing but satisfied customers."