What should be in your remodeling contract?

We've all heard about home improvement or remodeling projects that went way past the completion date, or worse, required a second contractor to complete the project.  Homeowners can protect themselves from these scenarios by getting contracts from the service providers, and most importantly, reading the contract thoroughly and adding additional protective agreements as needed.

Information Text:

Angie Hicks, Angie’s List founder: “A remodeling project is a big investment and a complicated venture. The best tool you can have if something goes wrong with your project is a good contract.  An Angie’s List poll found 16 percent of respondents don’t fully read contracts before signing it. It’s not a contractor’s job to protect your interests – that’s your job.  We recently asked 500 contractors about their standard contracts. We found 70 percent don’t include a clause that ties payment with work completion. Also, 45 percent don’t have an opportunity for the contractor and the consumer to part ways if the project is not going well without penalties.  What you’ll find is the contract can help or hurt you so it’s important to read it in its entirety and don’t be afraid to negotiate terms. A good contractor is going to be willing to negotiate reasonable items and if they are not, look for a different contractor.

Angie’s List Tips:

Agree to:

  • Payment terms
  • Pay upon completion
  • Penalties for missed completion dates
  • Opportunity to part ways with no penalty


  • Read the entire contract
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate
  • It’s your job to protect your interests


It is not unreasonable to state that the work will be done in "x" amount of time, otherwise penalties will kick in. This avoids a situation where work gets started and then you don’t see the guy for months. Also make sure you have you have a way to formally handle changes in scope, either at your request or the contractors. That way there are no surprises when the final bill is handed over.

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Jennifer Wiley

Jennifer Wiley is a videographer at Angie's List, where she shoots and edits videos for Angie's List TV partners across the United States. She enjoys getting out in the field and interacting with members and service providers.

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What Should Be In a Remodeling Contract?

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