Q&A / 

Construction Contract Plans & Specifications

Hire an Attorney

If you are getting ready to build or buy a new home, you absolutely must employ a contract and/or real estate attorney to help you review the builder's contract. It does no good to look at a contract once it has been signed. You find a good attorney by asking questions. Ask the attorney what he/she specializes in. Some attorneys do not do contract law on a regular basis. Avoid these folks if you can. You want a person who writes and negotiates building contracts on a regular basis. If they hedge on their answers, keep looking!

If you are in a bind and feel the need to sign a contract before it can be reviewed, then absolutely add a clause that gives you the right to show the contract to an attorney within five business days. The clause must also contain language stating that you have the right to revise the contract at the suggestion of the attorney you hire. Protect yourself!

Nightmares - Real Ones

I am hired on a regular basis by attorneys to act as an expert witness. It is my job to go in and see what went wrong on a job. Frequently I determine that the contract between the builder and the consumer is virtually worthless. The contracts contain little or no protection for the consumer or they contain vague language that can be interpreted in any number of ways. The poor consumer is often taken advantage of by the builder.

Think. Builders draft and sign contracts on a regular basis. They know certain tricks and tips. You, on the other hand, may be a contract rookie. If this is the case, it is worth $300 or $500 to get advice from a competent attorney. Keep in mind that if you find the right one, they have the contract clauses already written! They have been down this road before. With computers, it is often a matter of cutting and pasting clauses into a document. Find an honorable attorney and he/she will save you thousands and thousands of dollars. If you have to hire an attorney and a person like me after the fact to defend yourself in a lawsuit, you will see what I mean!

Plans - Get Good Ones

Having a solid contract is necessary. But having excellent detailed plans are just as important. If the plans and written specifications contain all of the things you want in your home, then the contract simply refers to those documents. They become a part of the contract. It takes extra time to develop great plans, but the process is worth it. Drawing good plans forces you to make decisions. If you wait to make these as the house is being built, you may be under all sorts of pressure. Your material options may be limited as well if you are forced to make decisions at the last moment.

The Bottom Line

You want my advice? Slow down during this aspect of your job. Mistakes made in the planning and contract stage WILL cost you thousands of dollars and possibly bitter memories that will never go away.

Invest extra time here and you will never, ever regret it. Do whatever it takes to get good plans and a fine contract attorney. They are out there, but just like all things, you need to turn over several rocks to find them!

If you want a trouble free building experience, one with minimal stress and anxiety, then you must have excellent plans and specifications. These plans may cost you several thousands of dollars extra at the beginning of the job, but they could save you tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses and change orders after you run into disagreements with your builder.

Top notch plans and specs also help make the job go smoother. Subcontractors usually have fewer questions. There are fewer costly change orders. Good plans and specs also minimize job delays. A good set of plans forces you and the planner to make critical decisions in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Sources of Plans and Specifications

You can order a full set of detailed plans and specifications from me. I have a licensed set of plans from a top residential architect. The plans show you what a REAL set of house plans should look like. If you reproduce the detail, schedules, interior and exterior elevations, etc. on these plans, you will have an excellent tool to help you build your house virtually trouble free. Excellent plans and specifications help communicate what you want. These plans and specs can be purchased from my Online Store at my website - www.askthebuilder.com, or by calling 513-407-8727.


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