The Kitchen Contractor Contract; How to Develop a Standard Work Contract Form

Before hiring any kitchen contractor to turn your kitchen renovation plans into a dream come true, protect your kitchen remodeling investment. Your best protection, aside from thorough research for the right remodeling contractor, is a detailed contractor contract. Or, in the very least, a completely filled-in standard work contract form. Signed by both parties, of course.

After you have researched for a good kitchen remodeling contractor and compiled a list of likely candidates, meet with each individually. Make sure that all kitchen contractor insurance requirements are met. Note: contractor insurance requirements for a kitchen remodeler may differ, state to state. Check online to determine your state requirements. Contact the Secretary of State to ensure each kitchen remodeling contractor is registered and can legally conduct business in that state.

Check to ensure that contractor insurance requirements are up-to-date, skill and experience-level meet your expectations, and that references check out. You will also want to go over the kitchen renovation plans, and touch on expected labor and construction costs. Note: don't be too quick to conclude that kitchen designer school certification is better than self-cultivated on-the-job training. Hands on experience can be every bit as instructive as formal education. And don't forget, each kitchen renovation contractor must pass a comprehensive exam before receiving a license.

Next, weed out any kitchen remodeler that does not meet your criteria. Obtain a formal bid for kitchen renovation costs and a rough project plan outline from each remaining kitchen contractor. And written proof that contractor insurance requirements are met. Note: for your own protection, even after selecting a kitchen renovation contractor, check at intervals to ensure remodeling contractor insurance requirements remain current for the duration of the project. Notation of this requirement should be included in the kitchen contractor contract.

Verify skill and level of kitchen remodeling contractor training; whether from formal kitchen designer training, apprenticeship, or other on-the-job experience. (I.e. diplomas, certificates, testimonials, or references from previous employers and clients). Also closely inspect each candidate's kitchen remodeler work portfolio; ask questions for clarification.

Once you have made a final kitchen remodeler selection, schedule another meeting. This time to finalize arrangements and pinpoint each aspect of the kitchen renovation plans. Then draw up a formal contractor contract agreement.

Depending upon extent and complexity of your new kitchen renovation plans, select the type of contractor contract that works best. Whether a standard work contract form or unique kitchen contractor contract; free contractor contract forms available online, or else pre-printed sample contractor contracts. Note: search online using the terms “sample contractor contracts”, “free contractor contract forms”, “examples of contractor contracts”, or “building contractor contracts”.

If the project is relatively simple, a signed work order or completely filled-in standard work contract form might suffice. However, most projects requiring the services of a kitchen renovation contractor will warrant a formal contractor contract.

Contractor Contracts

Building contractor contracts represent a binding legal agreement. Instead of just outlining kitchen renovation plans, contractor contracts should clearly define each aspect of the project. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Scope of kitchen renovation plans.
  • Required licenses and permits, and who should obtain each.
  • How the kitchen remodeling work site will be left at the end of each workday.
  • Which party will be responsible for removal of kitchen remodeling debris; the kitchen remodeler or homeowner? Note: this should include removal of any old kitchen features, including old cabinetry and appliances.
  • Kitchen renovation costs (labor plus construction material costs).
  • Materials list, including material prices and general kitchen renovation costs.
  • Work schedule, including key completion dates and kitchen remodeling completion date.
  • Material and workmanship warranties.

In addition to the above, building contractor contracts should outline contractor insurance requirements. And any promises or agreements - spoken or implied. Remember, oral contractor contracts are only as good as the paper they are written on. Getting everything in writing is the only way to protect the interests of both parties.

Written Contractor Contract Vs. Oral Agreement

Even if using only a standard work contract form, a written and signed work agreement or kitchen remodeling contractor contract is more than prudent. It is critical. Any verbal contract law you think might offer security in the event of a dispute would, at best, leave you on shaky ground.

There are many reasons why oral agreements - even when “protected” under the verbal contract law - are a bad idea:

  • Verbal contracts are difficult to prove.
  • Disputing verbal contract issues is always time consuming, energy draining, and unnecessary - with no guarantee of outcome. Note: free contractor contract forms and pre-printed sample contractor contracts are readily available. And self-written building contractor contracts are relatively easy to develop.
  • Under the verbal contract law, contractor contract dispute outcome is a toss up. Testimonies from witnesses (who may not recall the point in question), convincing arguments, effective legal representation, and the party the judge deems most convincing all determine who will win the dispute. Not necessarily the person in the right.
  • Relying on a verbal contract runs the risk of loosing hundreds or thousands of dollars; for homeowners and kitchen remodelers.
  • Due to associated costs (property development, kitchen remodeling material costs, permits, labor, kitchen designer, subcontractor and crew wages, legal representation, etc.) written documentation signed by all parties is essential. Relying on a verbal contract with such a high investment at stake is beyond reckless.
  • Verbal agreement details made before a project begins can be difficult to recall three or four months into a kitchen remodeling. This is true even when both the homeowner and kitchen contractor are trustworthy.

A kitchen renovation contractor who claims oral agreements are comparable to written, signed kitchen remodeler contracts should be avoided at all costs! Be suspicious of any kitchen remodeling contractor or kitchen designer who seems unwilling to sign a written contract. Or who insists a vague standard work contract form is sufficient for extensive kitchen renovation plans.

In a nutshell - the verbal contract law is of little value compared to written and signed contractor contracts. With an oral agreement, each opposing side must try and convince a judge as to the agreed-upon terms. Whereas a contractor contract leaves little room for dispute.

Reputable kitchen remodelers will not only oblige a project owner's request for signed building contractor contracts. They will insist upon it!

Contractor Contracts

Once the kitchen renovation contractor develops detailed kitchen renovation plans and terms have been agreed upon, an official contract should be drawn up. This can either be a self composed contract, a detailed pre-printed standard work contract form, or one of several free contractor contract forms available online. Note: if using a prepared contract, research examples of contractor contracts to select the best choice for your project.

Kitchen remodeling contractors should go over every aspect of the contractor contract with the homeowner. Both parties should thoroughly read, understand, and agree to the terms of the contract before signing it. Terms that are unclear or vague should be explained and/or revised.

One word of caution. Building contractor contracts are not legal or binding until signed by both the project owner and kitchen remodeling contractor. Terms and clauses not included in the contract at the time of signing are not legally binding.

A good kitchen contractor contract will be detailed and specific. Even a standard work contract form should include:

  • Full names, addresses, and contact information of both the homeowner and kitchen renovation contractor. If the kitchen designer or kitchen remodeling contractor works for a company, include the full name of the company; including address and contact information.
  • Physical address of the kitchen remodeling site.
  • Start and projected completion dates. Specify dates when significant stages of construction should be completed. Include acceptable reasons for delays. (Weather, material availability, shipping delays, etc.)
  • Kitchen remodeler work schedule; assurance that the contractor will be on-site each workday to oversee each aspect of construction; ensuring contract terms and building code requirements are met. Note: homeowners should specify within contractor contracts that the kitchen contractor will not take on a second (unrelated) kitchen remodeling project, until the project at hand is completed.
  • Detailed outline of the kitchen renovation plan.
  • Assurance the kitchen remodeling contractor will comply with all government agency regulatory requirements for construction site health, safety, and environmental standards.
  • Bid outlining kitchen renovation costs, including labor; Note: avoid estimates, which are subject to change.
  • Detailed materials list that itemizes kitchen remodeling needs; construction materials, appliances, fixtures, etc. Specify quantity, type, series, size, model, brand, and grade of each item.
  • Details of all kitchen renovation costs; include itemized costs for labor, construction costs, and construction material costs. Include payment due dates and scheduled amounts.
  • A statement that contractor insurance requirements are met; specify coverage, policy number, and provider contact information (I.e. company, agent, telephone number, etc.)

  • Assurance of full compliance with building codes.
  • Aspects of the project contracted out to a third party. (I.e. subcontractor, plumber, or electrician.)
  • Specification of any required permits; zoning, building, electrical, septic, plumbing, grading, etc. Also include who is responsible for obtaining and paying for each. Note: usually the remodeling contractor will hold these until project completion and/or final payment.
  • Proof that the kitchen contractor (whether a kitchen remodeler or licensed kitchen designer) meets all requirements. Including adequate contractor license requirements.
  • Proof that crew members meet or exceed proper license and contractor insurance requirements. Note: it is the responsibility of the homeowner to contact the insurer of the kitchen contractor to request proof that contractor insurance requirements are met. Kitchen remodelers should obtain proof of insurance for all subcontractors and laborers. And, the homeowner should review his/her own insurance policy; to ensure there is adequate accident coverage for the duration of the project.
  • Product warranty information, including those by a third party. Note: homeowners should be provided with all written warranties once work has been completed and payment received.
  • Kitchen remodeler workmanship warranty information.
  • Specification of who is responsible for cleaning-up the kitchen remodeling site after each workday.
  • A clause protecting the homeowner against property liens from charges or debts incurred by the kitchen contractor. (I.e. failure to pay a subcontractor, or unpaid construction material costs.) Note: building contractor contracts should state that lien waivers should be signed by the kitchen remodeling contractor, subcontractors, and suppliers at completion of significant stages of the project - also stated within the contractor contract. Once the homeowner has made payment, the kitchen renovation contractor should pay subcontractors and suppliers. All waiver documents should be signed by all parties, and then submitted to the homeowner.
  • Dispute resolution methods to be used by kitchen remodelers and homeowners should problems arise. Include a time limitation for dispute resolution. Wording within contractor contracts should be precise, and comply with state and federal laws and guidelines. Note: the usual process for resolving disputes is to first refer to the terms of the contractor contract or standard work contract form. The kitchen contractor and homeowner should discuss the dispute amicably in a private, distraction-free setting. In the event of an impasse, legal intervention is generally sought. Kitchen renovation contractor contracts should specify a third-party arbitrator as negotiator, for unresolved disputes.
  • A clause describing how “change orders” will be handled. Unforeseen changes, additions, or deletions that occur after construction begins. Building contractor contracts should specify how such changes will be carried out. Change orders are usually discussed and added to kitchen contractor contracts by mutual agreement, as a signed and dated amendment.
  • The right to rescission; allowing the homeowner 36 hours from the date of signing to void the standard work contract form or contractor contract, without reason or penalty.

Whether using free contractor contract forms or developing your own, contractor contracts should be designed to protect the rights and concerns of both the kitchen remodeler and homeowner. And should clearly define in detail the scope and limitations of all kitchen renovation plans. Although a kitchen contractor should be adept at producing detailed contracts, obtaining the services of a third-party to review the wording and content of the contract might be a good idea.

A real estate lawyer familiar with building and remodeling laws and contracts can review the contract before it is signed. And make suggestions and necessary revisions. Advocating the most desirable contractor contract possible; to protect you, your family or business, and your investment.

You might ask yourself, “If I genuinely trust my kitchen designer or kitchen remodeler, why have a third-party review builder contractor contracts?” The answer is simple. As the project owner, you will be financially responsible for all kitchen renovation costs. And will be legally responsible for all kitchen remodeling details, once the contract has been signed, and construction begun.

While you don't want an adversarial relationship with the kitchen contractor just hired, you must ensure your best interests are covered. Protecting your investments - monetary and otherwise, is essential. An experienced kitchen remodeling contractor will recognize this and will not be offended.

Unique Contractor Contracts VS. Pre-printed Free Contractor Contract Form Options

Create your own building contractor contracts using sample contractor contracts as a guideline. Or print free contractor contract forms, available online. Another resource is the American Institute of Architects. Detailed examples of contractor contracts can be purchased for a reasonable price and downloaded from their web site at

A pre-printed standard work contract form might be fine for smaller kitchen renovation plans. And sample contractor contracts or free contractor contract forms might suffice for many kitchen remodeling purposes. But each construction project is unique, and agreed-upon aspects will differ from one project to the next.

Pre-printed examples of contractor contracts usually require modification. Some aspects of the form may be irrelevant; certain features may have to be re-worded or omitted. And new features may have to be written in.

Despite the need for modification, sample contractor contracts and free contractor contract forms remain a viable option. Standard work contract forms and pre-printed contractor contracts are as legally binding as contractor contracts that are drawn up by a licensed kitchen contractor or lawyer.

If pre-printed examples of contractor contracts are used, ensure every blank is filled in; leave no empty spaces. Any aspect not applicable should be filled in with “N/A” (does not apply). Strike out clauses you don't agree with, or that are not relevant. And write in any new clauses before signing it.

Remember, even under the verbal contract law, oral agreements are worthless for building purposes. Whereas a detailed building contractor contract or completely filled-in pre-printed standard work contract form - signed by both the kitchen contractor and homeowner - protects both parties!

Posted by: TrustedPros
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