how to keep contractors to finish on time

steelskiesJune 11, 2014

Once you sign a contract, how do you know how long the addition will take. I've seen some homes where the foundation for the addition is dug, but nothing happens for months after that. I want to add a small addition, 15x20 to my living room for a "den" type room. What if the contractor takes 6 months. Is there any way to control how long it takes????

Any information would be GREATLY appreciated!

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You write it into the contract with penalties for being "late"...BEFORE you sign the contract.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 6:43PM
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Always stay in front of your contractor with payments. This allows you to "cancel" the contract at any time.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 7:25PM
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"You write it into the contract with penalties for being "late"...BEFORE you sign the contract."

And then you look for another contractor to replace the contractor that won't sign that contract!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 8:18PM
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"And then you look for another contractor to replace the contractor that won't sign that contract!"

I am not sure if that was meant to be honest or making fun of my suggestion... maybe both.

But, the point is you write the contract so that there *is* accountability. Whether there is actual monetary penalties, or whether, you don't pay for the next phase until or unless xyz happens, etc. It has to be structured into the contract ahead of time.

You also have to acknowledge that sometimes YOU can be the source of delays, so you need to make sure the contract is balanced. (It isn't the GCs fault if you didn't have your tile choices to him on time. Or, if they find structural issues that must be remedied before they can move further in the process... Things happen that will change your timeline. Expect that).

Otherwise, if you have already signed a contract, and you didn't plan for this ahead of time, you hope and pray you have a contractor who cares about his reputation and has good communication.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 1:29AM
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I would talk to the contractor's references. Does he stick to a schedule? Does he finish one job before moving on to the next, or is he trying to do 6 projects at once?

Past performance is no guarantee of future performance, but it should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 10:36AM
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There is a good reason to pour a slab and wait for a spell - Concrete needs time to properly cure before it can sustain the loads of construction. Since I don't know where you live, I can't speak to the common practices of your local building authority.

Your contract can include a finish date with a penalty per day over.

Your contract can include terms such as "There will be active work on the property each working day (exempt holidays and weekends) for at least x hours a day" with allowances for weather. You should sign off on each inclement day.

Be sure each contractor bidding the work will agree to adding such agreements to the contract.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 4:32PM
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Many thanks to everyone for their input. Is it customary or usual to put the time schedule on the contract. I would think most contractors would NOT want to do this and would refuse. What about where there are multiples involved, i.e. electrical contractor, mason, and then the general contractor. So each would have a time schedule that they must meet?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 4:57PM
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Generally, the General Contractor would be responsible for finding and scheduling all the other sub-contractors you mention. (and therefore, responsible for the timeline).

If you are thinking to trying to cut costs by doing the sub-contractor selection yourself, all timelines are out the window.

For me, I did what Annk recommends. I asked the GC for references, then I actually called and spoke to each of them (at least 3). One of the questions I asked was if they were generally on time--did they finish semi-close to their original timeframe? When you ask by phone (not email) you can also listen to how they answer. For me/us, the references were very positive, and I didn't feel like I needed to legal-up the contract. And, we didn't.

But, if it is something that you are esp worried about, you can write it into the contract.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 6:01PM
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Liquidated damages is difficult to enforce for a large project and virtually unenforceable for a small project. A better approach is to offer a bonus to finish on time. If you want speed you should be willing to pay for it.

On a small project it is more difficult to schedule subs close together and to get them to arrive on schedule so delays are inevitable.

What you can do to help is provide good drawings and specs.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 6:39AM
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Ask the contractor what time is necessary to finish this job. If it is not unreasonable and you like the company, sign up. Let them know you expect it on "his timeline". Set a "reasonable" penalty. To offset that, set a reasonable reward for finishing ahead of time. This is all about communication on the way in as well as throughout the job.

Also, how busy is this guy. If he is slammed with work he may not give the oversight necessary to have things done properly. Is he going to be on-site all the time or jumping from job to job?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 11:22AM
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"You write it into the contract with penalties for being "late"...BEFORE you sign the contract."

Sure if you also include a clause to pay him a bonus for the same amount as his penalties for each day that he is early?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 5:28PM
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A contractor mentor of mine, in business for over 50 years, told me he'd never sign a contract with penalty clauses and I'm inclined to agree. If my reputation for timeliness isn't enough, we aren't right for each other.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 6:04PM
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I'll sign any contract with a penalty clause, when it also contains a rider covering all specialty equip. and materials and their delivery, inclement weather, design changes, holidays and personal disasters, affecting the timely completion.

As often as not, the second half of the story, tempers the argument.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 9:37PM
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