Contracts are confusing and sometimes scary things. Often, modern contracts will befuddle even the most levelheaded of shoppers. But it is important to keep in mind that contracts were originally made to protect the consumer, and they still serve that purpose today.
When it is time to replace your roof, often you will be stressed and worried about getting the job done quickly. This may mean that you end up signing a contract without really understanding what all those odd phrases and quirky addendums mean.
Today, I would like to attempt to clear up some of the confusion surrounding this topic. Below, you will see a copy of one of Lone-Star Roof System’s contracts.
The first page is fairly self-explanatory, but I would like to do a brief run-through to be clear. A roofing contract may be generic with no logo, especially if the business is fairly new. This does not always mean that they are not dependable, but this is a small red flag, so make sure you get those references!
The contract should begin by stating your information (name, address, phone number, where work will be completed etc.). Anything the contractor may need to know about where they will be working and how to get in touch with you. This is not an attempt to pump you for information, but contractors will need to be able to reach you during the job so give them what they need.
The next part of your contract should state everything you have discussed about work and material – if they said they would do it, make sure it appears on the contract! This is the only guarantee you have, so be vigilant and don’t accept the contract until it is right. Our contract spells out materials pretty clearly from a standard set, but there is also room for special instructions. Extra nonstandard materials would be listed in this section and accounted for in the price.
Your contract should conclude with the price or bid and the name of the person who is authorizing the sale. They may write or sign their name, but if you want to be extra safe ask to see some ID so that you know you are talking an authorized individual. At the bottom of the written parts of your contract you should see a place to sign and date, often with a deadline to accept the contract. This deadline is to make allowances for changes in price if you choose to “sleep on it” before signing. Roofing materials are not so volatile that they change price every three days, but price hikes can happen rather suddenly and your contractor needs to have some protection from such market fluctuations. This is not designed to rush you into a contract and most contractors are happy to send over a revised contract after the due date (or accept the old one if no change needs to be made).
However, this is the part of the contract that usually makes sense.
The legal jargon of a roofing contract can be tiresome and arduous to decipher, but this is still an important part of your agreement with your contractor! Contracts often require specific wording to be legally binding and any contractor worth their salt has had their contract examined and revised for errors. Unfortunately, this means the legal clauses of a contract are often in “lawyerspeak.”
In our contract you will see that the first statement is in this strange language: “The contract on the face hereof…” This statement really just says that the clauses below it apply to the contract on the other side between the contractor and the customer. It also says that the laws of the area still apply to the contract, so that no one is doing anything outside the bounds of the law.
The numbered terms below that scary-sounding statement are the clauses or the points that the contractor wants to make sure everyone involved is bound to obey.
- This point says that the salesman has to have the approval of the business manager to create a valid contract. This makes sense, because the business needs to protect itself from bad salesmen. Usually this isn’t a problem with reputable companies.
- This point simplifies the process for you when it comes time to deal with insurance companies – the contractor can discuss with the insurance and get things squared away much faster if they can talk to the insurance adjuster directly instead of having the customer play “go-between” throughout the process. This is also the best way to ensure that you are getting a fair deal out of both companies.
- This point is a little more tricky – it states that the contract and warranty is not transferrable. You cannot sign the contract and sell your house before the work is completed. The contract is with you, so you must see it through. In the same way, the warranty has been given to you because the company has worked with you and explained what can and cannot be done to your roof. (Important note: many material warranties are transferrable to a new homeowner, but to do that with a labor warranty is much more difficult.)
- This point is in the contract in case some earlier contract exists. It states that only what is written on this contract is valid and any others are now meaningless. This is why it is so important to make sure your contract includes everything you want and nothing you don’t.
- This point is just like when you return an electronics item to the store – there is a fee to restock it, and often the retailer will take that price from the refund. In this case, your roofing contractor has bought material that cannot be returned and must store that material when the job is cancelled. This fee is for the cost to store the material until it can be used or sold.
- This point simply states that the contract is binding – you have both agreed on a service and a price and neither can back out of that deal without the agreement of the other party. Your roofer needs to know that he will get paid what he has asked, and you need to know that the roof will be done the way you asked.
- This point accounts for unforeseen expenses. The contract outlines what materials are covered under the given price, and the clauses outline that other materials cost extra. Again, this is not an attempt to swindle anyone, but merely a way to make sure the customer knows that additional costs may exist if the sub-roof is in poor condition.
- This point explains itself – the lines that could be laid incorrectly are not the fault of the roofer and so he cannot be held responsible if they become damaged in the normal course of the reroof or repair. This does not mean that they can go crazy on your roof! It just means that they cannot be held responsible for something that isn’t their fault.
- This point should be one that your roofer discusses with you. The labor warranty is not a fix-all for anything that could go wrong with your roof. Most labor warranties become invalid if anyone other than the roofing contractor has been tampering with the roof. The warranty is meant to protect you from faulty workmanship or mistakes made by the roofing crew. An honest company will offer this type of warranty. Be concerned if you encounter someone promising too much of a warranty – this may mean that they are a false roofer or a storm chaser. Someone who is happy to get paid for doing the roof, but will disappear if there are any problems.
- Lone-Star Roof Systems does not send an active warranty to the customer until the job is paid in full. This is because it is so easy to ignore the bill of a roof – you won’t have to work with this company again for quite some time. Unfortunately, this means that if anything does go wrong with your roof, it is not covered under the warranty because the warranty is not created until the work is paid for. This point also states that a lien can be placed on the property, which means it cannot be sold or its value transferred in any way until the lien is lifted.
- This point is a repeat of #4, with the addition that no agreement or property other than what is stated will change hands.
- This point states again that all other contracts are null and void. Basically any other contract simply does not count (unless you sign another one at a later date).
- This point means that you are expected to have insurance for anything inside your home that could become damaged during a reroofing if, say, a freak hurricane blows through and removes the waterproof covering the roofs left to protect the home overnight between days of work. It also says that if something is damaged, the roofer is not responsible for any loss incurred by that damage.
- This point states that if either party takes the other to court for any reason, whoever wins the case will be able to bill the lawyer fees to the other party.
- This point says that no one (other than those who have signed the contract) has any standing in the contract. Lone-Star is working directly with the customer and will continue to do so throughout the job and warranty term.
- This point states again that the laws of the area override the contract – nothing that is against that law can be counted as part of the contract. However, it also says that the legal parts are still upheld.
- This point states that the materials are the property of the company – this doesn’t mean that they can take back the roof once it is installed. It does mean that any scraps of roofing or other utensils used to roof your home still belong to the company and that you cannot keep them for any reason other than that they are part of your new roof, which you paid for.
- This point says that the company gets to charge interest on any balance that isn’t paid at the end of the job. This is so that customers don’t assume that the roofing company will not have penalties for late payment. Most contractors will work with you on payments if you need them to, but it is never a good idea to assume that you can pay something out over time.
Well, there are a lot of words there, but this should help to simplify your understanding of your next roofing contract (or other contract). As always, Lone-Star Roof systems is happy to provide quality service to all our customers, every time. If you have questions comment below or give us a call!