Do I need a written contract with builders?

In essence whenever you agree to pay someone you are entering into a contract, whether or not you sign a piece of paper. In fact builders are often called contractors even though they do not usually go by this name or sign written contracts for every bit of work they do. This being said it is always beneficial to get as much down in writing as possible (signed by both parties of course) because if there is a dispute over time or cost then it will be easier to sort out if everything is down on paper.

It is not essential to have this written contract, and in fact it does not necessarily guarantee that work will get done on time or to budget. However, if you do get a professionally written contract with detailed specifications of the exact work you want undertaken then this is a good position to be in. If on the other hand you have a wishy-washy loosely worded contract then this may not be worth much because a lot of it can be argued against.

Are quotes as good as contracts?

If your builder looks over your specifications and gives you a well written quote then this can be just as good as a professionally written and signed contract. If time is a major factor to your build, which is usually is, then you should get this in the quote and make sure that your specifications are as detailed and clear as possible.

If you are taking on the role of chief project manager and are organising all of the building work yourself and thus the hiring of labourers and subcontractors then you will probably not deal with written contracts. Most work will be done on a verbal agreement after plans are looked at, which is one of the risks of doing a build yourself where you want to spend as little money as possible. However, if you are on site a lot of the time to oversee the work then you can ensure that most stuff gets done on time and to spec.

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