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The original item was published from 7/8/2010 3:53:00 PM to 9/1/2010 12:00:06 AM.

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Police Department

Posted on: July 8, 2010

[ARCHIVED] Protect Yourself - Get it in Writing

House hold repairs, remodeling, landscaping, roofing – any work done on your home should only be undertaken when you have a written and signed contract or formal agreement. An honest contractor should have no reservation about providing a written agreement. Such an agreement not only protects the homeowner, but also the contractor.

So the rule is simple: GET IT IN WRITING!

Verbal communication is never easy. The words spoken by one person may only be heard in part, or what one person says may be interpreted entirely different by the hearer. And one what one party remembers about a verbal agreement can be different than what the other party remembers, especially with the passage of time. So misunderstandings can arise in the most honest transactions. Each party believes their interpretation of the agreement is correct, but there is no written document that could help resolve the conflict.

If the disagreement results in legal action, and there is no written document defining the transaction, the judge or jury must decide on the basis of which party seems to be more credible (not how I would like to take my case to court). Written agreements, though sometimes needing interpretation, usually define responsibilities and are much easier to enforce if problems arise. The lack of a written document describing what is to be done, what materials will be used, when the work will begin and end, what the cost will be, etc., leaves the homeowner vulnerable when a disagreement arises, the work is not acceptable or the work is not completed. Enforcing the agreement is more difficult because there are two versions of the agreement (homeowner’s and contractor’s), and no simple way to determine which version is correct.

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