ACT Contractors Forms... From The Paper Side of Contracting.

Contractor Forms... Is it a book or a Home Improvement Contract?

Posted by Bill Baird on Tue, Oct 13, 2009 @ 20:10 PM


     You know that contractor from Tennessee I contractor form discussed in yesterdays blog post about the length of contractor forms, specifically, the length of your home improvement contract? Well he did end up faxing over a copy of the home improvement contract form he was using for re-siding a house... You know the one that was 8 PAGES long without the federal cancellation form! .... You know, the contract form that cost the contractor a $9000 re-siding job because the customer "needed to look it over" before signing and never called back?

     When I pulled the papers from the fax machine, I expected to see a generic, "try to do everything", contract form that was overly long and "scary" because it included much more than was necessary for home improvement work.  I was right... and I was wrong.

     What I saw was a wordprocessor based form, Get help with your contractors form selections.downloaded from the internet as a contract for all "construction and improvement projects" sold to a Licensed Tennessee Home Improvement Contractor, that had notices and terms from at least TWO other states! and... This same Tennessee Home Improvement Contract, was missing the Tennessee required notices.  It did not even have the the most basic TN notice... the notice giving contact information for the Tennessee Home Improvement Commission (THIC)! 

Why was this Home Improvement Contract 8 Pages Long?


  1. It had notices that the creator typed in from not just one, but two other states!

  2. Instead of using the correct, home improvement 3-day cancellation notice, a single, small paragraph, the creator incorrectly used a "recission" notice for the sale of merchandise that took up half a page by itself.

  3. It had a 3-day AND a (7-day) notice of cancellation form which the form creator included because, in their own words, the seven day notice is a "mandatory contract inclusion in many states". Guess what, the ONLY state that has a seven day notice to cancel is CALIFORNIA, so why add pages for that in an agreement for Tennessee or for any other state for that matter?

  4. It had long detailed provisions for things like setbacks, lot lines, excavation, hard earth, things that are completely unnecessary for most home improvement jobs and certainly not needed for re-siding a house.

  5. It was created in a wordprocessor program instead of a professional, page layout program... and wordprocessor forms are ALWAYS longer because wordprocessor programs are limited in what they can do.

  6. The layout of the contract was very "homegrown" and not well thought out. This is the difference between typing and "typesetting".  For example, things that should have been placed side by side were placed on their own line taking up twice the space. 

No wonder the homeowners panicked when they saw this thing.

    Be careful that the contractor forms you use meet your specific needs. Generic, "one size fits all" contractors forms can cost you much more than the forms themselves. Ask questions and look at samples before you decide on which form to use. And make sure your home improvement contract is not too long for the customer to "swallow" because it contains too much of the wrong "stuff" and too little of the right!


     Have you had an experience, good or bad, with the home improvement contract form you use for your business? Do long contracts matter to the average homeowner?  PLease leave your comments below so we can all learn!

Topics: home improvement contract, contractor forms, home improvement, contractor contracts, contractors forms

Contractor Forms, How Long is your Home Improvement Contract?

Posted by Bill Baird on Mon, Oct 12, 2009 @ 18:10 PM


   Getting a contract signed.  I talked to a contractor today from Tennessee, who has purchased contractor forms from us in the past. This contractor went out to get a home improvement contract (not one of ours by the way) signed by a customer getting new siding on their home. Mind you, the customer had already ACCEPTED the one page bid (this contractor form was ours) with EXACTLY 5 lines in the scope of work field.


     The contractor made the appointment, sat down in front of both the husband and the wife at the kitchen table, opened up his briefcase and took out his computer generated home improvement contract and laid it in front of them. The homeowners took one look, quickly flipped through the document,  and told the contractor the dreaded words, "we need a few days to look the contract over before we sign."  Why?  Because it was 8 pages long... not including the two pages for the attached, and required, notice of cancellation form! No wonder the couple hit the panic button.Homeowners panic when given an overly long construction contract form.


     Put yourself in the homeowners place. How can any contractor possibly justify an 8 page contract when the entire scope of the job took up ONLY 5 LINES? Everyone expects the length of your contract forms to be appropriate for the size and complexity of the work being done! Wouldn't you?


     Even in California, the state that has more requirements on what has to be in a contractor form than any other, the California Home Improvement Contract we sell is only  THREE PAGES. This contractor was from a state with almost NO law requirements and yet the contract form he gave them was 8 PAGES LONG. Geez, I've said it before and I'll say it again. What customer feels good about signing a contract for a simple home improvement job, that is LONGER THAN THE CONTRACT THEY SIGNED TO BUY THEIR ENTIRE HOUSE!


     Does anyone out there remember what a contract form is supposed to look like? You know, a "good old" contract that is written on one page, front and back, with the signature line at the bottom of the FRONT page? Sorry, but that's the way your customers EXPECT the agreement to look like! Flop down a contract "book" in front of them, where they have to go through page after page just to find the spot to sign, says "LAWYER" not "CONTRACTOR", and the first emotion your customer usually feels is FEAR!  BUZZZZZZ, there goes the panic button!


Homeowners afraid of an overly long contract form.Don't kid yourself into believing that the length of your contract form doesn't matter to the average home owner. In my next post I'll tell you about what I found when this contractor from Tennessee faxed over a copy of this very same contract form....


How long is YOUR home improvement contract? Ever had someone reject it? What would you like to see as far as the layout and content of your "perfect" home improvement contract? Please comment below.

Topics: home improvement contract, contractor forms, home improvement, contract form

Contractor Forms MUST include the 3-day Right to Cancel Home Improvement Contracts

Posted by Bill Baird on Tue, Oct 6, 2009 @ 23:10 PM

     Your contractor forms must take into account the federal contractor cancelling an agreementand state laws regarding the 3-day cancellation rights of the consumer. Known by many names such as  the "3-day cooling off period", "3-day right of rescission" or "3-day right to cancel", this requirement causes a lot of confusion among contractors. If you do home improvement work, your home improvement contract must comply with this consumer right. 

     DID YOU KNOW that it doesn't matter what state you live in, the Federal Government has ruled that ANY Home Improvement Contract signed in your customer's home must give the customer the right to cancel the contract within 3 business days after they sign FOR ANY REASON. This applies to any job whose value is $25 or more.


     DID YOU KNOW that a customer who is entitled to the rights offered by the 3-day cancellation rule and who is not properly notified of these rights has THE RIGHT TO CANCEL the contract ANYTIME until 3 business days after they receive proper notification of this right???

So... You work on the job for a week. The customer wanted to cancel the contract the day after they signed but because you did not notify them that they can, they didn't think they could.  A friend tells them about the 3-day right to cancel. They call their attorney and ask him about their rights. He explains their cancellation rights and because your contract does not include the proper notifications, tells them to go ahead and cancel NOW! You have one of two choices.

  • TRY and sue them for the money they owe you for the completed work, lose, then eat all your expenses and costs on the job PLUS PAY YOUR ATTORNEY FEES, PLUS you will probably PAY THEIR ATTORNEY FEES!

It is important to understand that the FEDERAL rule regarding the 3-day right to cancel is the MINIMUM rule that every state MUST follow.  Each state can ADD to the minimum federal rule to give even more rights to the consumer... and most states DO!

If you would like to know more about whether this cancellation rule applies to your business and about further requirements of this rule, please click on the following link to download our FREE white paper on the 3-day cancellation rule.




Topics: home improvement contract, 3 day right to cancel, home improvement, 3 day cooling off period, 3 day recission period, notice of cancellation form

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