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Unread 01-07-2014, 11:50 PM   #1
KinTile
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Using Contracts for Tile Jobs

Hello, I'm a new registered user but a long time reader of the John Bridge forums. Please bear with me if I'm doing something wrong... I haven't seen a post regarding the use of contracts in a long while and wanted to get some advice.

I'm the wife of an experienced tile setter and do all the bookkeeping, etc. for our business. Currently we do not use a contract for any of our jobs and I am unsettled about this. I would like to start using a simple contract for all of our jobs big or small. How many of you are using contracts? Pro's and Cons?Does anyone want to offer a sample? I'm a very experienced web researcher so yes, I did see some samples however, I would like to get the advice from you folks since y'all work in the tile business.

Thanks for your help!
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Unread 01-08-2014, 12:06 AM   #2
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Sorry..

I did find some posts regarding contracts when I posted mine, I was shown some similar posts. I searched for contracts, but did not see the ones shown. Guess I didn't do it right. Please, no yelling at me for posting a question similar to ones already answered. Sorry.... :-(
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Unread 01-08-2014, 04:58 AM   #3
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I took a class on contracts through my local building industry association and then I bought a contract off of an attorney that I use. He had me fill out a questionnaire so he could customize some of the things on it. I wouldn't use one that is standard off the internet, you need one that is for your local state.
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Unread 01-08-2014, 09:34 AM   #4
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Some folks use contracts for everything.

Here in Texas I rely on a firm handshake. Ol' JB hisself operated the same way before retiring. After 30 years I've never been sued. EDIT: It really helps if you are very thorough and do the job properly.

The trick is selecting the customers you want to work for. If anything doesn't smell right, head for the hills.

I have found that contracts are great when you don't need them.
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Unread 01-08-2014, 09:46 AM   #5
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I have not used them but I do a LOT of communicating...before, during, and even after the job. And Paul makes a great point...there are some customers you don't want to work for.
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Unread 01-08-2014, 09:49 AM   #6
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Welcome, KinTile. Please change that permanent signature line to a first name for us to use.

I typed contract into the Advanced search feature and asked for Titles and got a good bit of discussion on the topic. Might wanna give that a try.
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Unread 01-08-2014, 11:25 AM   #7
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KinTile, I use a simple contract as a communication tool in order to keep everyone on the same page. It doesn't allow anything to question. I'm more than happy to share it with you.

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Unread 01-09-2014, 01:11 AM   #8
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If you think you need a contract, then you probably shouldn't take that job. The only time I signed a contract was for tiling a pool in a 5 star hotel. That was mostly so I'd look professional to them.

I obviously live in Canada, and our legal system operates a bit different. If it ever gets to the courts, a written contract is not much better than a verbal one unless it was witnessed and notarised. What a contract is really great for is outlining your expectations to the customer (as far as payment schedules etc). All of that information can be a part of the quote you give to your customers.
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Unread 01-09-2014, 07:27 AM   #9
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Depending on your state, contracts are required for any contracting. Like Pennsylvania. I feel it's perfectly moral to do what you say you will do and be compensated based on what was said. That might be illegal though


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Unread 01-09-2014, 08:06 AM   #10
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Hi Tilewife-

I would suggest you contact your state's attorney general's office to see what their requirements are.

Some state's also require contractors to provide a "know your consumer rights" document, to the homeowner, that gets signed by both parties. Each state is different.

Do you work directly for homeowners, or do you also act as a subcontractor to a GC?

Good for you that your "intuition" is nudging you to look into this.

Goog Luck,
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Unread 01-09-2014, 10:50 AM   #11
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I've got to disagree with a lot of the poster's in this thread. I think a contract is a must. Why?

I used to have a hang up about contracts. Like the other comments I rationalized that a "handshake agreement" and the fact that I didn't want to do business with people I needed a contract with were enough. But, like Joe mentioned, I found out there were certain requirements for my State and I wanted to be in compliance with these rules. So I bought a contract off of an attorney.

Here's what I've learned since using a contract:
The reaction from my clients was the opposite of what I expected. Most of them would tell me that "you have to have a contract". Some of my clients deal with contracts all the time in their business. They expect it.

A contract is more professional. It's something that helps to differentiate me from my competition. It spells out what work will be done, what the pay schedule is, when payments are due, etc. It tells the client that I have a system- this isn't my first rodeo.

It's an unbiased third party. I do a pretty good job of communicating with my clients, setting expectation, and over delivering. However with one client I ran into a communication issue that I've never experienced before. I had done my normal talk about what was going to happen. Once I got started in the demolition the client didn't remember a detail that we had talked about. We had to refer back to the scope of work to clarify this. Even though I thought I had covered this if there wasn't something in writing it would have led to a misunderstanding. It could just as easily be me that wasn't clear on something. A contract saved this relationship. This client is now on my referral list.

A client that doesn't want to sign a contract is a red flag.
Keep in mind that I've never "needed" a contract either. I don't do business with people I couldn't have a "handshake agreement" with either. But I think it's an important part of doing business.

I hope I don't need my health insurance or auto insurance but it's there if I ever do. Does anybody enter into a marriage with the intention of getting divorced? When two parties are involved things can go wrong. Nobody's perfect. Even if you are selective with your clients, communicate well, and over deliver, a contract is there for things that you didn't anticipate.
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Unread 01-09-2014, 11:31 AM   #12
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Good post Jim.

I do believe in written communication. It's a must.


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Unread 01-09-2014, 07:23 PM   #13
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I agree, that's a great post, Jim. Anyone advising not to use a contract is giving really, really bad advice. Even if you're not worried about "not getting sued", and you think you're a perfect verbal communicator... you're lacking experience or deluded if you think there won't be misunderstandings from you or a customer failing to remember the details of a conversation accurately.
Even if you forget protecting yourself legally, your customers will love you more if you use contracts; even if it's a simple dated scope-of-work that both of you sign.
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Unread 01-09-2014, 08:28 PM   #14
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A contract is a must. it protects you and the customer and all parties know exactly whats being done for what. A handshake and a smile doesn't cut it in the real world.

As Joe said, written communication is a must. I save all email correspondences, pictures and make a proposal and then a final contract. The customers love it and feel better too.
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Unread 01-09-2014, 09:09 PM   #15
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Think like a customer. We are ALL customers every day. Clearly written contracts are a must.
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