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That's Your Interpretation

I know you are excited about breaking ground on your new project - a new driveway, a new shed, custom bookcases, etc. But take a breath. Are the responsibilities in the contract you are about to sign clear to you and your contractor?

You know you want 12 shelves in your new bookcase, you told the contractor you want 12 shelves, and the contract says the bookcase will have 12 shelves, but at what height in the bookcase will those shelves be placed? Should you assume they will all be the same height? Should you assume the shelves are adjustable? Never assume - get it in writing!

What you want must be clearly described in the contract. Take extra time to make sure what you want is stated in a way that can't be interpreted to mean something else. If there is ever a conflict between you and the contractor, they will argue against your interpretation. That's why you want to avoid vague language, state specifically what you want, and use plain language.

Everything you include in a contract should be included because it helps to clearly describe the agreement of the parties. It is okay to be redundant and to state the obvious if it helps to make each part of the parties’ agreement clear. This benefits your contractor, too, so don't be shy to speak up and ask to revise the contract before you sign.

And remember, the ultimate audience for any contract is the judge that may have to interpret it in order to determine what the agreement of the parties is in order to enforce the agreement.

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1 Comment

Excellent recommendations, Ms Germani… for anyone planning to hire a Contractor:

(1) “Never assume - get it in writing!”

(2) “Take extra time to make sure what you want is (clearly) stated (in the contract)...”.

Thank you!

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