Hiring a building contractor to help you make home improvements is a wonderful way to improve both your quality of life and the overall value of your house. Yet in order to ensure that the work gets done when you want, the way you want, it is vital you write up a solid contract. If you are planning a home improvement project, read on. This article will present three important points to address in your contract.

1. Worker Insurance

You must obtain detailed information about the insurance status of anybody who will be working on your house. If your contractor assures you that he has an insurance policy that covers his workers, that's great--but it's still not good enough. First of all, ask that a copy of his insurance policy is appended to the contract. This will provide a valuable source of reference for you in the event that something goes wrong.

Second, be sure to inquire about the insurance status of any sub-contractors who may be working on your house. In many cases, your contractor's insurance will not extend to such workers. Make it clear that your contractor will have to obtain copies of their insurance policies before you will allow them to do any work.

2. Change Order Clause

Many people don't even know what a change order clause is--yet without one you could end up paying much more than you expected. A change order clause stipulates that a contractor must check with you before making any purchases above the amounts listed in the contract. That way, when you find out later on that he used a more expensive product to make your improvements, you won't have to be the one to foot the bill.

Most change order clauses set a specific amount--say $100. This gives the contractor permission to make substitutions as necessary, so long as they are less than this amount. Anything that exceeds this number will require your approval, otherwise the contractor will have to bear that extra cost themselves.

3. Site Inspections

If the work you're having done is on the house where you live, then this isn't as big an issue. But what happens if the work site is located somewhere else? Will you be allowed to pay visits whenever you want to inspect the progress being made?

Believe it or not, you might find it hard to gain access to the work site unless you have language in your contract about your right to make inspections. Remember to be as specific as you can. Make sure your contract spells out what days, and what hours of the day, you are permitted to inspect the site.

Bottom Line

Most contractors are responsible and upstanding professionals. But it is important to protect yourself from the threat of less scrupulous providers. After all, nothing could be more important than protecting your rights--and your investment. A thorough contract is one of the best ways to ensure that things go as planned.