How to write home improvement or repair contracts

Before starting home improvement work, homeowners and contractors should agree on what to do and how to do it. This is part of what goes into a written agreement for projects big and small.

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Two homeowners working together on a home improvement contract in their living room

What is a home improvement contract?

Nearly every homeowner wants to improve their property at some point, and that can mean hiring and negotiating with a contractor. Whether it’s a job as simple as putting in a cabinet or as complex as installing a swimming pool, homeowners and contractors should put their agreement in writing with a home improvement contract.

A home improvement contract is an agreement between one party, usually the homeowner, and an improvement services contractor about what is to be done with a residential property. It illustrates what the contractor is expected to do, a time frame for doing the work, compensation, and other considerations. When looking for a contractor, homeowners should consider looking for a licensed contractor and a contractor who will have adequate insurance coverage - these professionals can manage pulling permits and keeping your projects in compliance with local residential codes. Even if a property owner is hiring a contractor to simply paint a fence or do an easy repair, it’s in everyone’s best interest to make sure their agreement is recorded and detailed in a binding written contract.

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Benefits of using a home improvement contract.

Home improvement contracts can be necessary to make sure that all parties are on the same page. They define the scope of work and what is to be done, and they outline payment schedules. The contract also outlines procedures in case something goes wrong with the project.

A graphic of signing a home improvement contract on a tablet device with Adobe Sign

Some things that are usually included in a home improvement contract.

A home improvement contract can include:

  • The name and address of the homeowner
  • The name, business address, and registration number of the contractor
  • A description of the work to be done
  • The scope of work, which includes the main work and what incidental work is and isn’t covered by the agreement
  • Work to be done by subcontractors, if necessary
  • Use of the premises and property during work
  • Materials and suppliers
  • Relevant regulatory requirements, such as zoning for the property
  • The start date of a project
  • The expected completion date of the project
  • Relevant insurance, such as liability insurance
  • Any necessary contractor license numbers, as required by local regulations
  • A list of any required permits
  • Any waivers, if necessary
  • What happens in the event of a notice of cancellation
  • The amount of down payment for the work
  • A payment schedule and date of final payment
  • Pricing and timeline expectations around change orders
A female contractor determining a paint color for a wall by holding up a paint color palette

Understand your rights and responsibilities in your state.

Standards, regulations, and professional and property requirements vary from state to state. Prior to embarking on a major home improvement project or remodel, understand what you’ll need to take care of before hiring a contractor. You should also consider reaching out to an attorney for advice. Residential construction projects can be potentially fraught. In the event of unpaid work, contractors or subcontractors could file a mechanic’s lien on your property, which would give them an interest in it unless and until their work is paid for.

The best way to make sure your rights are protected is to get legal advice from an expert. If you’re uncertain about whether or not a contract is sufficient for your purposes, seek an attorney’s advice on the contract before finalizing it.

Finalize faster contracts with e-signatures.

Electronic agreements signed using by electronic signatures form binding and enforceable agreements and collecting signatures electronically is faster then paper based processes and the electronically signed documents can be easier to access then paper based filing system.

Create and manage templates

If you consistently do the same kind of work, you can make your process easier by creating a reusable template to handle routine agreements. Explore how to make a template from your agreements that is flexible, and customizable in Adobe Acrobat Sign.

Make a template for written agreements

Send documents for signature

By signing a written agreement, the party accepts and agrees to the terms of the written agreement. Find out how to gather binding e-signatures for home improvement contracts and other agreements without the hassle of printed documents.

Collect legal e-signatures

Design of a home improvement contract on a laptop

Improve home improvement with Adobe Acrobat Pro.

If you’re a homeowner who has a project you want done, or if you’re a home improvement contractor with a busy schedule, spend less time on paperwork and more time on home improvement by using Adobe Acrobat Pro. Adobe Acrobat speeds up the process of making a contract and getting signatures, and it provides a copy of the signed agreement to the signing parties. Spend less time with red tape and more time with duct tape with Acrobat.

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DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only. Adobe does not and cannot provide legal, financial, accounting or any other related professional advice. Laws and regulations frequently change. You should consult an attorney, accountant, or other appropriate professional advisor regarding questions specific to your situation. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Adobe provides this material on an “as is” basis. Adobe disclaims and makes no representation or warranty of any kind with respect to this material, express, implied, or statutory, including representations, guarantees, or warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or accuracy.

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