We recently did a Brothers Gutters Red Flag Series episode on 5 Red Flags to be aware of before signing a contract. Ironically, shortly after producing that episode, we came in contact with a competitor’s contract that rose more than the 5 red flags we presented to you all. Below is a real life estimate one of our potential clients showed us in direct comparison to what we offer and our projected cost for their project. The client’s needs and their safety is of huge importance to us as a company, and that is why we want to educate you. That is not to say that this competitor company does less than satisfactory work and/or anything negative about their work/product, but there are red flags in these types of contracts that we would like to discuss. Simple contracts like this are common within young companies and/or in the startup stages, however they should not be common in the later stages of a company.
One of our red flags in this Red Flag Series episode mentioned above was, “If the contract is not actually a formal and written document.” It is important that the contract not only have prices and/or a final estimated cost, but it also needs to provide terms and conditions that protect you, your home, and the work that is being done. Warranties, disclaimers, contractor terms, and customer terms should all be written, and included within a contract and/or anything that you sign
There are a couple of other red flags and/or some missing information that you as the customer should be aware of when receiving such a contract/estimate slip as the one below:
- Is this contractor licensed? If so where is his license number?
- What section of the house is going to be worked on? Is it the whole house, just one section?
- What gauge or thickness of the gutter? What color?
- What gutter guard is being installed? There are hundreds ranging from $3.00 per foot – $25.00 per foot, with varying warranties and performance ratings.
- Are there any warranties on the productions and/or work being done?
- What material is the fascia that is being installed – Pine? Azek?
- Where are the photos documenting what the home looks like before, and/or where the work needs to be completed?
- And most importantly – where are the legal terms? There is a simply short line at the bottom of the document that says “terms: _______” but it is blank. Also, the legality issues that go into such a project cannot fit on such a small line. These terms in a typical, lawyer approved contract are not only there to protect you the client but your home, your investment and also the contractor. You, as well as the contactor, have no legal binding to this document. Yes you have signed the bottom, but there is no wording or any sort of language in writing that says by signing this document you agree to pay, you agree on this price or agreement on any sort of terms and conditions.
If a company is not willing to take the time to provide a client with a properly written scope and proposal that is legally binding, do you really think they are going to treat your home or project any differently?
When you as the client are dealing with any sort of work, project, or service completed by another individual or company, it is very important to have some sort or written outline of exactly what you were promised and/or are getting, what you and the contractor could be responsible for, what the promised cost is, and what exactly is being provided to you and/or completed, as well as warranty information if there are any. Photos and detailed descriptions of a project before and after the work is completed is also a great added bonus to document exactly what was done and the conditions of your home before (this could also provide proof for you and the client id the contractor damages or messes something else up during the work).
We understand that sometimes it is hard to see past the price of a product or service, but when you are investing in something as important as your home it is so important to make sure that you are protected in writing and are fully aware of exactly what work will be completed, and what products/materials will be used.