Hand written changes and modifications

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by DVS Hardscaper, Sep 20, 2011.

  1. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,619

    I like my contracts to be clean and crisp. I do not like my contracts to have hand written changes, strikes, etc.

    My mindset is this - if for some reason litigation were to arise I do not want a piece of paper full of hand written changes, additions, strikes to be seen by a judge. I think it looks messy and unprofessional.

    I had a client sign a proposal and mailed it to me. I never even looked at the proposal, just filed it away. Come to find out they HAND WROTE a statement on there as part of the job!

    Ok, Ok! Now it's time to insert a line that says "any handwritten changes, alterations, strikes, erasures, yadda yadda yadda, are null & Void....."

    Anyone else here have experiences with clients hand writing malarkey on your contracts and expecting them to be binding?

    (also) Anyone have a statement saying "this proposal supersedes all prior communications..."??
  2. SVA_Concrete

    SVA_Concrete LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 467

    Yes ours has both.... as well as a clause about changes by inspectors or red lines on stamped plans.

    Often our contracts are signed before the plans are reviewed and approved.
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  3. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,488

    Time to call the customer and discuss his alteration of the contract. Especially if it affects the bottom line or design integrity. I personally witness all customer signatures on large jobs. Down payment is collected at same time so there is no "that's not my siganture" shenanagans.
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  4. GroundOneMN

    GroundOneMN LawnSite Member
    Messages: 81

    Have that statement in there, however will accept a note or two as long as it is initialed by both client and rep.
  5. Cam.at.Heritage

    Cam.at.Heritage LawnSite Member
    Messages: 76

    Same thing, if my signature and the clients are not beside the change then it doesn't happen. If there are a lot of changes I will just type up a new one, 5 mins saves a lot of headaches in the long run.
  6. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    My attorney calls it a "four corners clause." I can give you his info (he's just down in Tysons Corner), may not be bad to get a contract review.
  7. Dr.NewEarth

    Dr.NewEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,476

    I type into the contract, the dates of previous communications and also keep them on file.
  8. JoeyDipetro

    JoeyDipetro LawnSite Member
    from CA
    Messages: 117

    That's great. We go a step further and actually videotape our customer's signing our proposals as well as any change orders. You can never be too safe.:)
  9. Bru75

    Bru75 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 582

    I make my clients put a drop of blood next to the signature. You can't go wrong with DNA evidence.
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  10. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    I agree with Patriot. 99% of the time, I am there in person to go over the contract and witness every signature. They don't sign the contract without me going over the entire thing in front of them, me handing them the pen, and me saying, "So if that's all acceptable, I need you to sign here." In other words, I lead them through the contract signing.

    If anything comes up as I am going over the contract that they want changed or altered, I go back to my truck, make the change, hit the print button, and go back inside and go over the contract again. No surprises - ever.

    There are situations, however, where I do end up emailing the contract and having them send it back to me. Sometimes it's just inevitable with my busy schedule and theirs. I will try everything to avoid that. But sometimes that's how it has to go down. For me, that accounts for about 1% of the time. And in that case, I have some firm rules that I mind when I do it. 1) The contract gets sent over in PDF form only, so they can't change anything. 2) My signature is not on the contract. I will send them back a copy with my signature only AFTER I've had a chance to receive the one they signed and check it over. 3) They have either already paid the deposit over the phone (by credit card) or they have included a deposit check with the contract in the mail. Otherwise, I'm not signing the contract.

    The good thing is that if you haven't started work yet, then there's no problem. He added things AFTER you signed and that doesn't count. So you just need to make sure you're on the same page when the project begins. If it were me, I'd call him back and say that his handwritten changes aren't legal and that you need to revise it and get this new copy signed before you can begin work. If the changes are something that is going to cost extra, then you either increase the amount your charging or he removes the handwritten stipulations. Easy. If he doesn't want to do either, then I'd return his deposit and ask him to find someone else. Simple.

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