Do you have these 2 winter clauses in place?
Many of us in the states that have winter will try to work through the winter season. It may snow all winter. It may be too muddy to work. Or it may be below freezing. Or it could be a mild winter with great weather conditions. When you're pricing jobs September through December you have no idea what Mother Nature will bring.
About 9 years ago we did a small patio the week before thanksgiving. The patio was complete but we had to return after the Thanksgiving weekend and wrap up the grading and seeding. Well it rained that weekend. As the temps dropped. After waiting 10 days for it to dry I realized we would have to return in the spring to finish the grading. So I wanted money. I tell the client we're done with the patio and we need to finish the grading in the spring and that he can retain some money for the grading. He and I went round and round about how much was a fair retainer. His amount WAY higher than my amount!
From that point on I placed a clause in my proposals that spell out how much money a client may retain for final grading and seeding. This way me and the client are not standing on their front porch arguing about it. This clause is only placed in the proposals that I write up between sept 1 through March. It's a seasonal clause so to speak.
My job costing system automatically calculates the amount that the client may retain. The amount is usually the cost I materials. So if I budgeted $250 for seed and straw - then that's what they may retain. There are a few reasons for why I limit the retainer to material costs. And this is because often times we're able to fine grade, but it's too cold for seed, so we'll just return in late march, scratch the top of the soil with rakes ad seed and straw.
The clause will say something like:
In the event weather conditions are not suitable for fine grading seeding etc, client is responsible for paying the balance due,
However may retain $xxxx.xx until the grading and seeding is complete.
Last year I started utilizing a similar clause for poly sand. Last January it turned too cold to apply poly sand. The husband was against having a patio built in the first place. So he was a jerk from day one. So he and I are standing in their foyer arguing about how much to retain until the poly sand app is complete.
Again - the amount I allow clients to retain for poly sand is derived from the amount budgeted for poly sand for the job.
Since having the clause for seeding and grading no one has given me any flack. It's spelled out plain as day and all parties know what to expect. You can build a perfect patio, have a very happy client, and instantly spoil a relationship because something wasn't addressed in the contract.
My business is founded off of being proactive. No matter how much I smile and how much my customers like me - at the end of the day I'm still a CONTRACTOR.
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Last edited by DVS Hardscaper; 11-29-2012 at 10:55 AM.