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Getting Contracts in Writing

Welcome to “At Home With Tom & Sandy.” Just like Rodgers and Hammerstein said, “June is bustin’ out all over… June, June, June.” As always, Tom and I are bustin’ out all over giving you the inside scoop, what’s up, what’s down and what’s hot.   

Tom: Well, Sandy, the YCCA Home and Garden Show was another success. Well done! 

Sandy: Thank you, Tom. It is always exciting to start the show, make plans and send out advertising and think of new exciting things for our visitors. And I will say in the same breath it is a relief when the show is done, everything put away and all you vendors can get busy following lots of good leads. You are following up aren’t you, Tom? 

Tom: That we are! YCCA did a couple of cool new things this year at the home show. The appearance of the Central Arizona Pipes and Drum Corps for the opening on Saturday was the greatest. A nice surprise for the community. 

Sandy:Our Pipes and Drum Corps is fantastic. They work strictly off donations and it was our honor to have them with us. Are you aware, Tom, the Central Arizona Pipes and Drums is a highly disciplined team that provides service and ceremonies for line-of-duty death, active duty and retired member’s funerals. Because they believe in paying it forward as a tribute to their fallen comrades, the Corps travels great distances at their own expense to honor their brothers and sisters of the fire service.   

Tom:I loved the bite size cupcakes served by the cheerful smiles from the Lonesome Valley Wranglers4 4H Girls. The cupcakes were out of the world. 

Sandy:Tom, that leads me to ask you – exactly how many cupcakes did you have? The cupcakes were homemade by Britt and Michael Flores, owners of Peace, Love & Baking Co. – a local business. And yes, there were yummy – I had one! 

So, Tom, I am hearing that business is going great. I know it would be so much better if you contractor types could get more help, though! 

Tom: That is an understatement. It so tough and challenging to find workers. Even the temp agencies don’t have people to send! In my 35+ years of working here, I have never seen such an acute situation as this. 

Sandy: I hear the national unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent. That is amazing. I suppose anybody who is willing and capable is employed. 

Tom: Sounds about right to me. We are advertising in other markets for the talent we need on the hopes the right candidate wants to relocate to our slice of heaven. 

Sandy: Well, as you are aware, we (YCCA) and other industry partners are working with Yavapai College to get some classes rolling out this fall in an attempt to assist those industries with students who might want to learn a trade. That doesn’t answer the immediate need, but hopefully starts some men and women out on the right path to a great career. 

Tom: Well, that internship program is shaping up to be a promising note for the industry’s future in our area. I am excited to see what finally rolls out and I know I am speaking for many other local companies.   

Sandy: Me, too. I hear from all corners that projects are taking longer because the manpower just isn’t there. Do you think this might cause a slow down? 

Tom: Sandy, I do not see a slow down. What I see is more likely a project backlog developing, which could turn people off from moving forward. 

Sandy: How is the manpower shortage affecting you? 

Tom: In last two weeks we have been trying to complete some foundation work on a portion of a house that was sinking and due to a labor shortage, what should have taken a week with the right number of workers, instead took two weeks. And this is simply a manpower issue.   

Sandy: With delays, and I am sure you could possibly be tied contractually to a completion date, does this create conflict now with the owner? 

Tom: Our clients, as I am sure is the case with many other homeowners, understand the issues the industry is faced with and with up-front communication completion dates can and have been extended a reasonable number of days. However, I will say contract dates are important and not to be taken lightly.  

Sandy: Speaking of contracts and I cannot say this enough – “IF IT IS NOT IN WRITING, IT DOES NOT EXIST” and I am sure you would agree Tom and also, long gone are the days of a handshake and contracts are required. 

Tom:Granddad never used a written contract because “a man’s word was his bond.” However, today’s business and legal environments are completely different than when granddad gave his word. 

Sandy:YCCA is always promoting to Get It In Writing and Do Change Orders. Disputes and lawsuits are, unfortunately, a fact of modern life and sometimes it is very difficult to figure out who is the most honest and believable party, and what was the parties’ actual agreement when it is not in writing. 

Tom:I know that the State of Arizona requires any contract with a property owner in an amount of more than $1,000 be in writing and contain certain elements. Sandy, I am sure you know those elements by heart.   

Sandy:Here are the elements required: name, address and license number of the contractor; name, mailing address and job site address of the property owner; the date the parties entered into the contract; and estimated date of completion of all work being performed under the contract. The contract must be signed by the property owner and contractor and/or the contractor’s representative. The total dollar amount to be paid to the contractor by the owner must also be under the contract. The dollar amount of any progress payment and stages of construction at which the contractor will be entitled to collect progress payments must be under contract. And last but not least, the contract must contract the following verbiage: “The property owner has the right to file a written complaint with the registrar for an alleged violation of Section 32-1154, subsection A.  Complaints must be made within the applicable time period as set forth in Section 32-1155, subsection A.  ROC Contact information ROC 602-542-1525” This information must be in 10-point font in the contract. 

Tom: Wow, Sandy, you are the Wikipedia of contract requirements. That is great information. This is basic information that folks need to be aware of.  

Sandy:As another little reminder, contracts should define allowances and be very descriptive of the work being performed.   

Tom:And let’s not forget Change Orders, Change Orders, Change Orders. Every time a change is made, whether it pertains to a schedule, an item and/or product change, a deduct or and add, a change order is critical. Change Orders can prevent issues and need to be in writing.  

Sandy:As always, thanks to our readers for stopping by and reading “At Home with Tom and Sandy.”  You’re in good company and we love sharing our column with you.  

P.S. If there is anything you would like to specifically know or have questions, send me an email. We always love hearing from the community. Enjoy June! 

Tom Reilly, architect, contractor, Renovations 928-445-8506 

Sandy Griffis, executive director, Yavapai County Contractors Association. 928-778-0040. 




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