Here's my contract terms:

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by tthomass, Dec 28, 2008.

  1. tthomass

    tthomass LawnSite Gold Member
    from N. VA
    Messages: 3,498

    I know a lot of people hoo and ha over their contracts but a lot of my contract was put together from gathering information from others and my own input. I have more things to add to it but I am hoping that this thread can be used as a helpful tool for all of us to revise our contracts and better protect ourselves. I encourage others to post comments, recommendations, their own terms and anything HELPFUL.


    Contract Terms
    1. A 50% deposit is required on all jobs. The balance is due the day the work is completed.
    2. Payment is required when job is completed, unless there is a written agreement otherwise.
    3. Interest will be charged at the rate of 1.5% per month for all unpaid amounts after 30 days from date of work.
    4. Any collection costs or attorneys fees required to enforce payment will be paid for by the property owner or person authorizing work. Such persons specifically waive all rights under mechanic lien laws. Legal fee minimum of $500 will be assessed automatically.
    5. For any complaints, notification must be in writing within 7 days of the work. Failure to provide such notice waives any right to an adjustment.
    6. Customer is responsible for advising the Contractor on the location of underground utility lines and other items susceptible to damage, including underground wires, cable, pipe etc., that cannot be seen or do not meet building code requirements.
    7. Rock Water Farm will not be held responsible for damages to private utilities including, but not limited to, irrigation systems, invisible dog fences, gas lines, electric lines etc.
    8. In lieu of a formal signature, verbal authorization and subsequent performance of work is considered acceptance of this contract and these terms.
    9. This is a severable contract and payment must be made for individual items if for any reason the contract is not completed in its entirety.
    10. If the nature of the work may reasonably require access to a neighbor’s property, it is the responsibility of the property owner to secure this permission and to advise Contractor of the specific boundary lines.
    11. Customer warrants that he is the owner or has the authority to authorize the work.
    12. After installation, proper watering is the responsibility of the client.
    13. Occasionally, unforeseeable underground obstructions occur. Rock Water Farm shall be paid for the removal of the obstruction at a flat rate, or at the hourly rate of $50 per man hour.
    14. After work is completed, the job site will be left broom-clean.
    15. All work to be performed is specific in this contract. Additional work will be performed only by mutual consent of both parties and at an additional charge.
    16. All plants shall be free of disease and insect pests.
    17. All plants shall conform to the measurement specified on the front page.
    18. When plants or other material are not available, the contractor may make substitutions, with client’s approval, using plants or materials that are similar in size and cost.
    19. Estimate prices are good for 30 days unless otherwise stated.
    20. On all time and material jobs, there will be a “one way” charge for travel time.
    21. If underground obstructions are found on excavation, clearing and dirt work jobs requiring use of heavy equipment (i.e. rocks, buried debris, logs) a “rock or equipment abuse” clause will go into effect doubling the charge due to extra time and wear on machinery.
    22. When seeding is done the customer is responsible for watering at recommended intervals twice a day as needed to insure seedling growth. Rock Water Farm will not be responsible for death after germination due to lack of water.
    23. Rock Water Farm will not be held responsible for theft of any material from the jobsite at any point in time.
    24. Stone is a natural product possessing uneven shapes, textures and color differences beyond the control of Rock Water Farm.
    25. A 2yr warranty is provided on masonry work against any major failures. Minor “hairline” cracks are not major failures.
    26. All permits, bonds and engineering plans performing jobs described are the responsibility of the customer unless noted on contract.
    27. Rock Water Farm is considered owner of all plants and materials until such time payment is received in full. Rock Water Farm reserves the right to reclaim all materials and plants not paid for in full after contract is completed.

    Initial:____________ ____________

    Watering Instructions
    Plants should be WATERED thoroughly once every 7-10 DAYS OR AS NEEDED. SOIL MOISTURE should be CHECKED by digging beside the root ball 4” to 6” deep BEFORE NEXT WATERING. If soil is still moist, do not water and check again in 3-5 days. Summer thunderstorms should not be counted as sufficient water. To water thoroughly, the water must be absorbed by the soil very slowly. The water hose should be laid next to each plant, turned down to a trickle and left to run for about 30 minutes on container stock and small burlap-wrapped plants. On large trees, the water should run 1 to 3 hours to insure a good deep watering. A soaker hose may be used in place of the hose when a new group of plants has been installed. Each soil has its own characteristics and should be watered accordingly. Rock Water Farm will not be held responsible for plants stressed from lack of water during periods of drought.

    After jobs are completed and paid in full, shrubs and trees purchased from us are guaranteed for one year as follows: THOSE PLANTS PLANTED AND CARED FOR according to our instructions (see above) that fail to survive will be replaced with a credit of 100% of the original purchase price. All plants are only guaranteed one time and replacements will not be guaranteed. Plants used in other than their natural environment such as patio plants, bonsai, etc., will not be guaranteed. Plants that die because of lack of water, drowning, insects, disease or winter kill will not be replaced under the warranty. We do not guarantee annuals, roses, house plants, mums, perennials, ground cover, transplanted plantings, or grass seed, (stated in #22 above). Guarantee will not take affect until full payment for contracted plant material is paid for in full. *Payment not received within 30 days from completion of work voids all guarantees.

    Acceptance of Work
    I agree that Rock Water Farm Landscapes & Hardscapes Inc. has performed the work in this contract, and that it conforms with the provisions in the contract, unless otherwise noted below.

    Clients signature __________________________________________________ Date _______________________
  2. Summit L & D

    Summit L & D LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 269

    A couple of thoughts...

    As I reviewed our current contract with our attorney, several things were brought to my attention. Regarding Mechanics Liens: they are VERY difficult enforce in court due to the complexities in PROPERLY filing them. Thus I don't really stress that point in the contract, we leave the door open for it, but just don't make a big deal about it.

    Regarding number 8: I personally like the way it sounds, but again....does it really stand up in court? This is not something that I've talked to our attorney about, so I'd be interested to know just how well a "verbal" contract does.

    I really like number 23. I was just discussing this issue with my insurance underwriter the other day.

    Does anyone carry insurance on "work completed in an unfinished project"? For example: we plant 30 four inch caliper trees and vandals destroy them (I know, outside chance but....) I'd like to know that we'd be able to recoup the money on not only the trees but also the labor.

    27 is also a good clause. You might also add something along the lines of: "Plant warranty begins at date of installation, but is not honored until final payment is received." You could also implement that clause in other areas regarding warranty fulfillment.

    I know you spell out the conditions of your plant warranty, but one thing that we've stipulated is that in order for a warranty to be offered the customer must have an irrigation system for the plants. (In our area that is a drip irrigation system.) If they don't have one, I will have included it as an option in the proposal.

    Good stuff overall!
  3. tthomass

    tthomass LawnSite Gold Member
    from N. VA
    Messages: 3,498

    In the state of VA a verbal contract is enforceable. It may only be one persons word vs another being the problem.

    Homeowner's insurance should cover theft.

    I like your wording for #27 better.

    Looking at the plant warranty it "basically" says I'm bringing you a healthy plant. If you don't water there is no warranty nor is there with disease or insects. So, the warranty is peace of mind but also it "basically" says that if the plant dies its your fault.
  4. STL Ponds and Waterfalls

    STL Ponds and Waterfalls LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,174

    How do you guy's word and enforce your turf work. I'm talking about after you build a patio and do a grade and install sod or seed and straw.
  5. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,627

    Our Turf Damage Clause:

    All damages done to existing turf will be graded, seeded, and mulched with straw. Seeding will be performed up to the outside edges of the pavers where deemed necessary. Curlex (erosion control material) and sod are not included in the price listed below, however they may be used for additional charges, which will consist of materials and labor. Seeding will only be performed one time; watering and maintenance will be the responsibility of client.

    Then, because in the fall and winter, we sometimes can not peform regrading / seeding because the soil is frozen or muddy. To avoid standing on the client's front porch arguing about how much they can keep as a retainer I have this line placed after the Agreement Amount. My estimating system automatically calculates the amount the client may retain and it automatically places it in the contract:

    In the event that wet or frozen soil conditions shall prevent contractor from re-grading and seeding the disturbed turf areas, client will be responsible for paying the balance due upon completion of the proposed hardscape, however client may retain $249.00 until regrading and seeding is complete.
  6. zedosix

    zedosix LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,665

    Thomas, your contract scares the hell outta me, and as a consumer I would look elsewhere for a contractor if you came to me looking to sign that!

    For starters, are you serious 50% up front???, you've already shown that you don't trust your client, yet you want half up front before you start the job, secondly they have the right to withhold final payment for 30 days after completion. If you have any subcontractors working for you they have the right to withhold 10% for 45 days after completion just in case of construction liens put against their property if you don't pay your subs. Since when are locates the responsibility of the consumer, is that not the contractors responsibility?

    I dunno, I mean good for you guys if thats what it takes to protect yourself, and if your clients agree to those terms then all the power to ya!
  7. Summit L & D

    Summit L & D LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 269

    zedosix, I don't know if Canada practices are that much different, but even for us here in South Texas 50% upfront is common place.

    After I typed my my last post I realized I forgot to ask another question. We've been doing a fair amount of projects that involve a significant amount of funds and on a more recent project we were left waiting for final payment until the client "gathered" up the money. So that got me to thinking that on projects totaling more than xx,xxx.xx dollars, I should have the client place the entire amount of the proposed project in an escrow account (or something similar). From that account the client could pull the project payments from, and we would also have the peace of mind knowing we weren't going to be left holding the bag at the end. I know our contract covers us for non payment, but I feel that this might add an extra layer of protection.

  8. tthomass

    tthomass LawnSite Gold Member
    from N. VA
    Messages: 3,498

    Welcome to America! Yes, 50% before I set foot on your property and I don't care if the job is $5,000 or $50,000. Its not always 50% upon completion but to start its 50%. If they can't give me 50% down how do they expect to pay for it in the first place and if they don't give me 50% its not that they don't trust me, its that I don't trust them.

    I don't use subs.

    VA law, utilities are the responsibility of the property owner........been there with that lawsuit and won because my contract protected me. Much of this contract was written by a lawyer.
  9. tthomass

    tthomass LawnSite Gold Member
    from N. VA
    Messages: 3,498

    BTW, I'm hoping others will post their terms.......I see no reason not to at least do portions.
  10. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,627

    Yeah, I'm not hip with the 50% down thing.

    Many states dictate how payment is to be conducted.

    In MD we can only "demand" up to 33.33%. And really, I'm comfortable with 1/3.

    Like I have always said - "everyone is nice until it comes to money". I would never do a job where we finish and collect the remaining 50% at completion. And if there are change orders.....that 50% balance becomes 64%.

    Thats scary. It's scary because if a conflict arises you could be out 50(+)%, plus attorney and court fees.

    I icollect 33.33% upfront. I then taylor a draw schedule that is based on direct expenses. The higher my direct expenses....the more draws I collect as the job is performed.

    I try to work the draw schedule so that at the end of the job, the client owes us $1500 to $3500, even on jobs that we do that are amounts in the 6 digits. This way, in conflict arises, we made our money and I can walk away and I can forget about the $1500 to $3500.

    When a client has a balance of over 50% - you can't walk away from that! You're forced to go to court. That sucks because a) you do not know you'll win. b) If you do win, that doesn't mean you'll ever see the money c) the case could be drug on for years d) You'll have to pay your attorney a fortune

    Keep the remaining balance low at the end of the job and you allivaite all I just mentioned above.

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