It's very easy to get caught up thinking about your exciting project, the budget you have allocated, the all important completion date plus the quality of work and forget other key details such as health and safety insurance and payment schedules etc.
This is where a formal written Contract can help you. It is specifically designed to protect your interests and to make sure the project comes in on time and to budget. The Contract won't resolve disputes but it will set out the rules giving you peace of mind during what can be a stressful time.
Building projects are complex and have a habit of throwing up all sorts of issues to grapple with. The more detail covered in the Contract and T&C's the clearer all parties are with where they stand. Let's take Payment Terms as an example. Any decent Contractor will stipulate what their payment terms are and should provide a schedule of payment so that you only ever pay for works completed. It should also set out the rules for any extra work normally called a Variation.
It is imperative you know who is responsible for insurance cover and you are well within your rights to ask to see copies of the insurance Certificates. Most main Contractors will have Public and Product Liability up to £10m and Employers Liability up to £5m.
Handover, Minor and Material Defects
It is also in your interest to ensure that there is an agreed handover date. This will give you an opportunity to walk through your project and agree a Minor Defects List also know as 'snagging' with your Contractor. The Contractor should then remedy the items on the list within an agreed timeframe.
Complaints and Cancellation Notice
In the worse case scenario, the Contract and website should clarify what to do in the event you are unhappy with the service. There are Ombudsmans who can help with dispute resolutions i.e www.disputeresolutionombudsman.org.
You should also be given the right to cancel your Contract within an agreed time, normally 14 days without given a reason.