Why Do You Need a Contract?
When you sign up to a contract you need to have the remuneration that has been quoted or agreed on and all the elements broken down as well as a description of what work is going to take place. This usually takes the form of a specification and drawings, which will establish the legal scope of work.
Ensure that everything is in writing. Too often something is included in a hearsay situation and at the end of the contract it is added to the bill. You thought that it was included in the main contract and appears as an extra. Therefore you have to explain to the client why they have to pay extra for something that they thought was included. Very embarrassing and not a position that you want to put yourself in.
Remember that in project management – Assume Nothing – Record everything.
Points To Consider Within The Building Contract
You can not buy an item on hire purchase without a contract, they set out their costs and what you will have to pay them and when and what happens if you don’t. The same theory should be applied with a building contract. For example – the construction and fit out could take up to six months or six years on a large project and the main contractor will want money on the way through to pay for the work as he progresses. How much and how often are two of the main questions to be agreed upon. This is covered at the beginning when you set out your contract, how many stages and how many progress claims, and how much you will hold back until all the remedial work at the end of the project is complete. There both parties are aware of their ongoing obligations.
Building works take place every day without a formal contract and they nearly always lead to, at the very least, disgruntled parties within the project or complete financial and timing disaster, unless they are controlled by a contract and a project management system. This is one of the reasons why there is so much litigation within the building industry. Some companies may even have a moneymaking scheme to get more money out of you the client in the form of extras. They provide the lowest quotation, but they have slyly not included everything, and then request more money to complete the job, you then don’t have much choice if you don’t have a contract. You just want the job finished and you have to pay extra.
This is why it is so important to have the project properly documented and for you to ensure all the work is covered in the documentation. This can even entail working through the project in a face-to-face meeting with the contractor to ensure that they fully understand and cover every eventuality within reason in their price. The meeting should always be minuted.
Although this sounds far removed from interior design it is vitally important if you want the project to run professionally. Overruns in cost often lead to a compromise in the quality of the finishes able to be used and you as a designer never want this to occur.