Get It In Writing!

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Hey Warrior Rising, can you build me a house? —Sure I could, but I’d rather teach you how to build a home yourself, or at least manage the whole affair.

How much will it cost?
—Depends on a lot of things.

Well you know, just a rough idea, by the square foot.—Um, ok…would you like solid gold faucets? White or yellow? You could opt for the more budget-conscious bucket and river option. City or country?

I thought it was supposed to be green, and have lights, and a chocolate fountain on top! —Sorry sir, but you said the Velvet-Edition thingamajig.

Communication is important and thus makes the meaning of words of paramount importance. Part of the reason there is so much trouble in the world is because people very often do not understand each other. How many times have each of us thought or said, “But that is not what I meant”?

There is a Confucius proverb that says: “The beginning of wisdom is the ability to call things by their right names.” A universal definition combined with a common frame of reference produces comprehension. If I say “Sustainable,” it will in all likelihood conjure up a meaning for you that is quite different from mine. So one word will not suffice here, especially when that word has been fiddled with by marketing experts, spin doctors, and word sorcerers (lawyers). Those people will change definitions or muddy the waters, effectively changing the meaning of words to suit a purpose that serves an agenda—not a human being.

When you want to build a home, you can get lost in the languages of the world. Not the choice between French or English, but the wonderful world of trade languages, jargons, idioms, and colloquialisms; and don’t forget that you may wind up having to learn a bucket full of legalese.

The secret here is a little thing we in the building business call “Scope of Work”. What you need is a contract written in a language you and the other party agree upon. So forget the lawyers and get out your pen! Follow these steps and you’ll do fine.

  1. Find someone you think you can trust for the job.
  2. Find a simple template or heck, you could get ours.
  3. Conduct a meeting. A good contract starts with a meeting of the minds to discuss details.
  4. Write a first draft of the agreement. Now sleep on it and check it again. Ask the other party if they wish to add, delete, or change anything. This process could go through many revisions until everyone is happy.
  5. Review it again. Talk it over with other experts and people who have been there, especially the local ones.
  6. Specify a “Change Order” procedure and expect these to pop up. A Change Order is work or goods that were not specified in the contract. Be sure that, before any work that was not specified in the contract proceeds, it is reviewed, priced and then the Change Order is signed by you first. Sometimes it may cost nothing, other times…ouch. The more time you spend researching and planning, the less time you will spend paying. So have a “Change Order” process and simple template and be hardcore about using them. This protects both you and the other party.
  7. Expect the Unexpected (or as we call them: Challenges). Approach challenges cheerfully and with a mind to compromise. It may be a guardian angel protecting you from something bad or sending you something good, so take a good look at what is happening.
  8. Rush a Build, Ruin a Build! This is a tough one in the modern world, especially if you are debt financing. Everyone working is busy. You may not be the only job the plumber has, so be prepared for delays. You may also not be ready when said you would be and most people can work with that; so you work with it too. However, you could always learn to do it yourself. Building home is actually pretty simple when you break it down into systems (roof system, wall system, etc.).
  9. Last and most importantly but I have to point this out, CONTRACT REVIEW! Make sure you and the other party agree to the meaning of the words in the contract. Sit down and go over every point. Don’t be afraid to have a dictionary and ask questions about jargon and other things that you may not comprehend. This avoids the “But I thought that was included!” pitfall from both sides.

Part of contract review is a vigilant but friendly presence during the scope of work; because if you are signing the contract, you are the boss. So be the boss and be nice but firm. A build will eat up a lot of time when you are the boss and maybe also doing as much of the work as you feel able to do yourself.

Good luck on your Home Sweet Home!

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

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