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When is a contract not like a steak?

When is a contract not like a steakDoes this seem like a silly question? Humor us for a moment, because it will drive home the importance of reading and understanding the contract you must sign when a builder undertakes a construction job at your home. This applies to us, Archadeck of West Central & Southwest Ohio, and to any other reputable builder out there.

When you order a steak in a restaurant, there is an implied agreement between you and the restaurant that the steak will be cooked the way you want it cooked. When the steak is delivered to your table, if it does not meet your expectations, you can send it back, and they will cook another one for you. If you are unhappy with your meal, sometimes the restaurant even throws in a free dessert or gives you the whole meal for free, “just because.”

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When you arrange for a contractor to design and build an addition to your home — even an outdoor living addition — you’ll need more than an implied agreement. For the arrangement to work, you and the builder must sign a contract. That way, everyone agrees on the expectations up front. No surprises!

Included within (or along with) your contract is the following information:

  • A description of the work to be done, also known as the scope of the project
  • The total exact price of the project, including materials, labor, permits and taxes
  • A specification sheet listing dimensions, special features and specific materials to be used
  • A detailed, labeled rendering created by an architectural draftsman based on our conversations about what the project will entail
  • Details about client responsibilities
  • A payment schedule
  • A method for dealing with amendments to the work, if needed
  • Details about how we, as the builder, will handle clean-up during and after completion of the job

When is a contract not like a steak You should not sign the contract for your new deck, porch or patio project until you are certain that you agree with and understand every detail in it. It’s important that we address any inconsistencies or concerns you may have before we get started. We never want to find out, later on down the road, that a customer had unrealistic expectations.

As you can see, the contract sets the tone and lays out the expectations for any construction project, no matter how large or how small. We take the contract very seriously. At Archadeck of West Central & Southwest Ohio, we pride ourselves in following best business practices. Our objective is to consistently produce satisfied customers while continuing to maintain a successful business.

Dayton Award Winning Outdoor Living SpacesWhen we design and build your new outdoor living environment, we are poised to accommodate your needs and desires in every way. Putting everything in writing, up front, is our way of ensuring we fulfill your wishes. We want you to get everything you expect from your design the first time around.

One area for potential misunderstandings is the timing of your outdoor living project. If we run into inclement weather while working at your home, we’ll need to take time away from the site until conditions improve. Also, addendums to your project while construction is underway, or problems obtaining the correct materials, can extend the completion date. Delays to your project will affect other clients in the queue for future start dates. Conversely, if we encounter delays at a project scheduled before yours, then your start date might be affected.

Does this “contract talk” sound boring? It may, but think about it this way: the concept of using a contract for the scope of a building project evolved because somebody somewhere had a misunderstanding about some work to be done. We want to avoid any such misunderstandings! The contract serves to set boundaries. Should we encounter differences of opinion during the course of our work together, the contract would serve to navigate our relationship through to the successful completion of your outdoor living project.

Remember that steak you ordered at the beginning of this article? Obviously, you can’t compare the journey of building an outdoor living space addition to that of ordering a steak at a restaurant. A steak will stay with you for about 24 hours, while a deck, for example, will be with you for 20 years or more. If something isn’t right with your project, or if there is an aspect you aren’t pleased with, we will work with you, within the contract, to make things right, but we can’t throw in a free pergola. Again, we will work with you within the contract; if it is not written in the signed contract, it is not and cannot be an expectation.

If you are contemplating an outdoor living addition at your home, you will not find a more reliable or professional contractor than Archadeck of West Central & Southwest Ohio. We want to work with you to create the backyard of your dreams. Contact us to learn more at (937) 848 – 7040 or (513) 897 – 2040. You can also email us at wcohio@archadeck.net

Tim Stephens owner of Archadeck of West Central & Southwest Ohio

Tim Stephens owner of Archadeck of West Central & Southwest Ohio

Understanding contracts and client expectations of a reputable builder

The ultimate backyard room

The ultimate backyard adventure begins with you!

Archadeck of West Central and Southwest Ohio is “America’s Deck and Porch Builder®”–We specialize in custom designed decks, screenrooms, sunrooms, gazebos and pergolas. With a NARI Certified Remodeler, trained design consultants, and a professional staff we’ve built hundreds of dazzling outdoor living spaces our clients enjoy and their neighbors envy. This staying power of our company is not by accident, it is well rooted in following best business practices which consistently produce satisfied customers and a successful business.

Best business practices include licensing, insurance and contracts to ensure peace of mind for our clients. As a leader in the outdoor living space building industry and an experienced, reputable contractor, we are licensed and fully insured with workers compensation and general liability insurance. This comprehensive coverage not only covers us while we are working, but protects your premises as well regarding any potential construction-related accidents. In addition to this protection, when choosing to work with us, you’ll receive a detailed contract (which incorporates an exact price quote and project scope), a labeled project rendering, specification sheet and the most expansive customer protection plan/warranty in the industry before construction begins.

Outdoor Living at its best in Clear Creek Township by Archadeck of West Central and SW Ohio

From a legal and risk-management perspective, your contract is king. The contract sets the tone and the expectations for any construction project, large or small. Everything from the work description and its price, client responsibilities, payment schedule, method for dealing with amendments to the work, clean up details and even the timing is laid out in the contract. We make every effort to make the customer happy but there are boundaries. If it is not written in the signed contract, it is not and cannot be an expectation…period. This means upon completion, once the work listed on the contract is completed to your satisfaction we are done.

The following aspects of our contract ensure a clear understanding of the responsibilities and expectations of both parties

  • Our Business information – company name, address, phone number and our registered business number
  • customer serviceClient information – Your name, address and phone number and the address of the building work site if it is different than your residential address
  • Date – contract signing date
  • Work description/Project scope – A clear statement or series of statements to spell out precisely what work will be done by our team, including filing and obtaining permits, making the Call Before You Dig phone call to have utility lines marked and any construction related debris removal. Specific references to materials (dimensions, special features and any other details related to the project materials) are to be listed on the specification sheet
  • Price – The total exact price (costs of materials, labor and any taxes)
  • Archadeck differencePayment schedule – Clearly indicates the agreed upon amounts and specific times for payment due at various stages of project completion
  • Client responsibilities – A clear statement of your responsibilities which would cover such tasks as location/marking of underground drain lines and sprinklers and work site clearance and refurbishing upon the completion of our work. (this can include: removal and saving any shrubs, trees or plants you wish to replant, reseeding or sodding areas of the lawn disturbed because of construction, cleaning areas on the exterior of the home in close proximity to said project or the installation of softscapes like mulch or pea gravel)
  • Signature lines – It is vital that the signatures of both parties be included in the contract to make it binding
  • The labeled project rendering, specifications sheet and warranty information (workmanship – one year and structural integrity – five years when Archadeck exerts control as your remodeling contractor) are additional components of the contract documents which help make the process as smooth as possible.

Post construction landscaping (something we NEVER do) and yard repair are items which are not part of our contract and are usually handled by the homeowner after we complete the project. However, yard repair can be coordinated through Archadeck as an above contract item and incurs additional costs which must be negotiated in writing, separately.

hassle-free no textRegarding start and end dates, we schedule by the first in first out concept. Once a crew is assigned to your project they are yours (unless you are advised differently) until they are finished; this is to minimize the disruption in your life. Throughout your project, there will be segments of time during which the crew will not be on the jobsite and this in no way means they are not working on your job. A lot of coordination items such as debris hauls or material runs as well as employee doctor appointments or sick days and inclement weather days require time away from the site. Unfortunately, bad weather today affects everyone in the queue for future start dates.

During our follow-up consultation we take the time prior to signing the contract to talk at length with you regarding each of these aspects of the project, making sure all details are included in the contract and expectations are clearly understood by both parties. This along with consistent, open communication throughout the building process helps to eliminate misunderstandings and validates what you’re getting for your investment.

Screened Porch with stair landing and cover

Ultimately, contracts are similar to building permits, as they are both legal requirements which track the project. They’re to protect everyone involved – the homeowner, the contractor, and the municipality. If differences of opinion occur, permits and contracts serve to guide the relationships to successful completion.

Tim Stephens owner of Archadeck of West Central & Southwest Ohio

Tim Stephens owner of Archadeck of West Central & SouthwestOhio

If you are considering an outdoor living space this year, please allow us to use our award-winning design, construction and customer service skills to partner with you to bring your outdoor living dreams to life. We’d love to hear from you. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation at (937) 848 – 7040 or (513) 897 – 2040, or via email at at wcohio@archadeck.net.

“Let this be the year that Archadeck makes your outdoor living dreams come true.”