March 18, 2016
By Bob Incollingo
It can be a tricky proposition to manage the course of home improvement when the price, the time for completion, or the work to be done changes after the contract is signed. The paperwork needs to catch up in order to keep everything legal, since all changes in the terms and conditions of a necessarily written home improvement contract must also be in writing and signed by all parties. N.J.A.C. 13:45A-16.2.12.
Sometimes, changes are compelled by concealed or differing site conditions not foreseen at the time of the making of the contract. Think of termites or blizzards. Far more often, the change is elective on the part of the home owner, who may on second thought select a different product or design for incorporation into the project.
No matter whether the change comes from the contractor or the owner, or is forced on the parties by circumstances, their home improvement contract needs to be adjusted in a signed writing. While the entire contract can be restated, usually an addendum called a Change Order will be drawn up, completed and signed to modify the agreement. Your home improvement contract should detail a method for doing this. Here is specimen Change Order clause for a home improvement contract:
|6. Changes in the Work. Any and all additions, changes, extras, alterations, deletions, or modifications to the Work (“Changes in Work”) shall be expressly authorized by written Change Order signed both by the Owner and by Contractor. The Change Order shall set forth any related costs, charges, or other changes in the Contract Price which shall be paid by Owner (“Extra Charges”) or deducted from the Contract Price as a result of the Change in Work. The Change Order shall further set forth any related changes in the Contract Time resulting from the Change in Work. Extra Charges shall include costs incurred by Contractor for wages and benefits of hourly personnel assigned to wait on site for municipal inspectors during any period of necessary down time, rounded up to the nearest half day; the same are not included in the contract price. Unless otherwise agreed in writing by both parties, Extra Charges for a Change Order shall be due before commencement of the Change in Work. The Contract Price and the Contract Time may be changed only by Change Order. The cost or credit to the Owner from a Change in Work shall be determined by mutual agreement before executing the Work involved, except in case of an Unforeseen Circumstance, which shall be handled as herein provided.|
To give you the full picture, click here for an example of a home improvement contract Change Order.
South Jersey construction attorney Robert J. Incollingo is a Director of the Remodelers Council of the Builders League of South Jersey, and practices construction law, business law, and real estate law in Gloucester County, Burlington County, and Camden County, New Jersey from his office in Cherry Hill.