Contract Question

olivertwistkitchenApril 19, 2013

KD drew up contract and I have 2 questions.

1) There's a total $ figure at the end but no itemized list with prices at all. Is this standard?

2) They want 1/3 of the total fee upon the start of work. Is this standard?

We are in Long Island, if that makes a difference.

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Sophie Wheeler

1. if you're just talking about cabinets being supplied only, yes that's not at all uncommon. People are OK with the bottom line, but if they see the itemized, they start pulling it apart, and don't understand that the whole thing unravels then.

2. No, actually 1/2 down is more usual.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:35PM
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So you don't know what you're paying for? lol

I would ask for their breakdown whether it's standard or not. That's ridiculous.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:35PM
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No, it isn't just cabinets. It's the whole 9 yards, demo, construction, replacing window, etc, etc, etc.

The other issue is that the total is way more than the estimate we were given at the beginning, so it's hard to figure out how it got so high.

Wow, really, so 1/3 at start is low? I'm shocked.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:38PM
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I saw a list of all cabinetry items, with prices, and found order errors. I would not buy cabinetry without knowing how much each piece or design element was costing me so I could evaluate what direction I wanted to take or how much I valued something.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:40PM
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We have a decently detailed list of what's to be done and who supplies what, but just a total at the end. Our guy does 1/3 to 1/2 up front, depending on the project, then we pay as the project progresses. He just lets us know when he needs another payment and how much. The electric panel upgrade was a quick one day job, so it was 50/50. We started with 1/3 for the kitchen. I think the bath was 1/2 to start with a few payments along the way. I don't recall the windows, that turned into a much larger project along the way and he was kind enough to make room in his schedule for all the crap uncovered.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:51PM
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I would make sure to list the major elements ie: cabinets by manufacturer (plywood upgrade if you get it), demo, removal, lighting to include types (under cabinet, in cabinet, ceiling, pendant), wiring, plumbing, etc.

You don't need to have every detail, but if you think you are getting undercabinet lighting and down the road they say "no, we only agreed to ceiling and pendant lighting" you have nothing to back it up.

If you have specific things you know you want, list them. A certain pendant light, a type of countertop (marble, granite, silestone).

Those are my suggestions. You both need to be clear on what is and isn't covered in the contract. Don't sign or pay until you understand everything.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 8:28AM
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I'm also in Long Island, We had our payment schedule of I think 6 payments. If I remember the payment schedule correctly we had a very small deposit, then the first payment was due when the work actually started. (which was almost 6 months later with the town permits).

We did get a semi itimized list of some of the cost. In fact it helped us get a credit for a window that was not replaced or in the contract but on the price sheet.
Make sure every thing is spelled out. You don't want any expensive surprised. We found out after the work started that the tile halfway up the bathroom walls which was included in every discussion was not include as well as the tile backsplash. Kind of funny, when the GC said the tile guy would fix cetain things when he installed the backsplash and the painter did not paint the area the backsplash would go.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 8:43AM
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Holly- Kay

Our contract also had no itemized list and I don't have a problem with that or with the 1/3 deposit for the cabinets. I am dismayed however that our KD isn't responsive. I am now just praying to get this whole thing over and done with.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 9:28AM
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Sophie Wheeler

OK, for a complete renovation, even if it's not price broken out individually, you want the work broken out and well described. "Kraftmaid kitchen cabinets 39" tall with 3" of crown molding, Deveron door style with Cinnamon stain, all plywood construction, factory finished exposed ends and special wood hood as shown on p 340 in the Kraftmaid spec book." Then a similar listing of the rest of the materials. As far as the labor, it also needs to be well described, "To include all new supply lines for kitchen sink as well as kitchen drain. Does not include opening the wall to relocate any plumbing without a change order agreeable by both parties. New island prep sink will require opening up drop ceiling of basement below and running all new drain and supply lines to island location. Island sink to use island loop vent, not studor vent. All work to be done with town issued required permits and inspections"

And have documented in the contract the change order process. It will get used. If you spec things out properly on the front end, it won't get used a lot though. You do have to leave open the possibility of hidden damage or structural issues that may need to be corrected as well as the possibility you really hate that sink that you loved so much online once it has been shipped to you in person. What you don't want to have happen is that when the tiler is there to install you backsplash, you realize it's plain white subway from Home Depot when you had talked about using a specialty crackle tile from Walker Zanger and you assumed that that was what the contractor ordered. Or he based his labor rate on the plainer tile, and you need a more labor intensive and difficult to install tile done instead.

Your and his expectations have to match. That's what a properly written contract does. It protects you both. And you want to make sure on a larger project involving a contractor that you do check his license and insurance and require him to pull permits. That is essential.

And for a large project, 25% down is enough. With the remaining payments structured into coinciding with specific milestones. You always want to reserve 10-15% to be due after the project is entirely complete. That is your assurance that those punch list items get done.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 11:50AM
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Have you gotten multiple estimates? Give them each a breakdown of the work to be accomplished, so it's apples to apples.

I'm surprised people purchase without knowing pricing. If they give you a number, they should be able to break it down and list the details it's based on.

I would want full disclosure.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 12:36PM
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I completely agree with what HollySprings says above. Our contract did itemize the different trades - $x for electrician, $y for painters, $z for cabinetry and there were detailed explanations of what each trade would do and what was included. Some minor optional items were itemized so we could decide if we wanted them or not. However, I'm glad we didn't get a complete itemized quote for cabinetry. It was all custom made and I did NOT want to know how much our pantries and toe kick drawers added to the price. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

As for deposits, we paid 40% up front, 30% at cabinet install, 20% at countertop install and will pay 10% at completion of punch list. All change orders were due immediately.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 3:42PM
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A lot depends on scope of work and the monetary value associated with the renovation. For a simple like for like cabinet replacement and the job is under 10K, you're not going to have as much detail or need as much down as if this is a 100K job with a lot of different trades collaborating on the result. But, either way, you have to have YOUR list of specs. Now, you can incorporate a cabinet design plan from a supplier into that document without having to spell it out, or add pictures of how you want a certain element to look, but the contract should be specific and clear as to what money you are spending, and what result you are getting.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 3:56PM
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We had the same problem with our simple kitchen remodel, very sketchy about what it covered, and I figure once the contract is signed and down payment made, the contractor is in control and you're at their mercy.

When I requested more detail (undercabinet lighting, crown molding on cabinets to the ceiling, etc.) as well as price for upgraded cabinets, never heard back. Business must be good.

At this point I'm so disgusted am ready to get bids from a good cabinet maker, get that done and go from there. Time constraints are not a problem.

There's no change to the footprint, no permits needed.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 4:26PM
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We're using a Long Island kitchen designer and our contract for kitchen design services ONLY has 1000% more detail than your kitchen renovation contract.

No, in NY what you got is not standard. What, it says "Kitchen - total job $80,000,sign here"?

Get everything spelled out. In theory, in NY state verbal agreements are binding except as applies to real-estate contracts. In practice, you never, ever want to go to court thinking you'll win a "he-says-she-says" case, which is exactly what you have if you sign a contract without everything spelled out.

Any responsible contractor does a full scope of work with the contract, which spells out everything the two parties agree is being done. Some break out each individual item - "crown molding, 120 feet, $x. Install French doors x make and size, $x." Others list the full scope of work by trade - ie. each task for which you're contracting the plumber, the electrician, the floor person, the tiler - then put a lump sum for each trade on the contract.

No specifics at all and the price is higher than you thought, and you're asking if it's standard? Not at all. Do not sign.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 7:47PM
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We don't have a GC. I hired a cabinet maker, and an electrician; I will hire a flooring installer, a plumber, a drywall guy. I will purchase my own sink, faucet, range hood, and UC lighting. So I have individual estimates from each sub.

For the cabinetmaker, I got a detailed list of work, with drawings. I paid the cabinet guy 25% of his bid to get on his calendar (the end of June); I will pay 40% when he starts construction, and the balance at the end of the project.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:32AM
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