Contract Advocacy Review
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Is Your Contract Clear... or Clear As Mud?

The Contract Advocacy Review untangles confusing language in your contract and protects your rights. A remodeling or new home contract, simply put, is a statement of agreement and a pledge between the parties of:

Who... the homeowner(s) & builder
What... detailed job description, plans & materials list
When... start & complete dates
Where... lot, street address, and
How Much... total costs with paydown terms, warrants, conditions & contingencies spelled out.

Easily said, right?

Not As Easily Done. If what goes into your contract isn't completely clear... the odds are very good that what comes OUT may be seriously screwed up. And that's the source of horror stories you've heard about construction catastrophes and conflicts between homeowners & remodeling contractors.

Assumptions Are Deadly Pitfalls. Builders aren't clairvoyant, nor are you! If you and your contractor don't ask each other enough questions BEFORE entering into an agreement, you'll begin your project with different assumptions about exactly what's supposed to happen, and by when. An assumption anywhere in a construction contract is nothing but a Pitfall waiting for somebody to fall into it.

Miscommunication or Dishonesty.

Conflict between homeowners and builders begins in one of only two places:

1. inadvertent miscommunication... or
2. dishonesty

Prevent the Damage Now. In either case, a well-written contract clarifies expectations, closes loopholes, and limits opportunities for abuse, which could be used later against one party or the other. Smart Consumer Services recommends that homeowners have their construction or home improvement contracts reviewed by an attorney before signing. The next best thing, is to request that Smart Consumer Services provide a Contract Advocacy Review.

What's a Contract Advocacy Review?

When Smart Consumer Services reviews a yet-to-be-signed construction or design agreement that's been presented to a homeowner, we look for several things, including:

1. Is it clear?
2. Is it complete?
3. Is it fair?

Removing Loopholes. We also look for missing, ambiguous or conflicting information and point it out. We suggest alternate ways of handling specific situations. We remind homeowners of their rights and options when negotiating. If the proposed deposit and paydown terms look excessively pitched in the contractor's favor, or are too vague to be meaningful - we say so. If important sections of a contract are missing, we provide sample language that can be amended to the agreement.

Improving Communication. In addition, we advocate for clarity of communication in the construction documents. Smart Consumer Services can help reduce the chances that miscommunication will be a source of conflict between a contractor and homeowner.

Here's how the Contract Advocacy Review works:

  1. You place the order for a Contract Advocacy Review by calling the Smart Consumer Services toll-free number (1-877-662-8767). You will be instructed to fax your UN-signed contract proposal to us for review. We bill your credit card at that time.
    Or use our SECURE online order form.

  2. Next, we contact the company that gave you the proposed agreement and let them know that Mr. & Mrs. So-and-So -- their prospective customers -- have asked Smart Consumer Services to provide an Advocacy Review before signing the contract. We describe the Advocacy Review service to the company in a non-threatening and friendly way. We make clear that what we provide is NOT a legal review - but IS a review for clarity and completeness.

  3. We ask immediately if the company would be willing to deduct the amount of the Advocacy Review (and Reference Check, if both are being done) from your contract total.

  4. After completing the Contract Advocacy Review we send you a report with suggested modifications or inclusions. You can use the Advocacy Review Report to make your final hiring decision or as a guide to negotiations with the company or contractor.

What Does the Contract Advocacy Review Cost? Ordered alone - the Advocacy Review fee is $59.95. If you need it in a hurry (within 2 business days), a RUSH order carries an extra $25 charge. Standard Reviews are returned within 7 business days.

Lenders Will Reimburse You. If you're financing your project through a loan, ask your lender to reimburse you. Smart lenders will recognize the value of this pro-homeowner service and reimburse the borrower for the cost. Here's one that does:

Contractor May Deduct the Cost. Keep in mind that almost any legitimate contractor is happy to reduce their contract total by the small amount of the Reference Check and-or Advocacy Review you've ordered.

Double Protection. Before you sign the dotted line... make sure you've checked the company's references! Consider ordering the Contract Advocacy Review as a package with the Contractor Reference Check & Report, the other highly-recommended Smart Consumer Homeowner Survival Service.

The national homeowner advocacy organizations, United Homeowners Association and American Homeowners Association, have endorsed the Smart Consumer Services Contract Advocacy Review and Contractor Reference Check. Our services have been noted in major publications including Bob Vila's American Home, American HomeStyle & Gardening, Professional Remodeler, Smart Money, Qualified Remodeler, Reader's Digest Books and other publications.

© 2002 Smart Consumer Services. All Rights Reserved.

This material is not in the public domain. Neither this material, nor any part of this material, may be reproduced, sold, re-sold, posted, directly linked, framed, traded, incorporated within other material, or given away without the express written permission of the Smart Consumer Services.