All Articles

Congratulations! You’ve chosen the remodeler you’d like to work with on your home improvement project. Now it’s time to get down to business.

Written by NARI Staff

Before embarking on any project, professional remodelers will provide you with a contract. Required by law, the contract is designed to protect both you and the contractor.

Just because you talk about something with your remodeler doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed. Make sure to get everything you discuss in writing and ensure it’s included in or added to your written contract. Thoroughly review the entire contract and be certain you understand it before signing. Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions! Never sign an incomplete contract, and always get a final copy.

In addition to the contract, get copies of all other documents involved in the transaction, such as: financing terms (if provided by the contractor), warranties, Wisconsin Right to Cure brochure and lead safety information (if your home was built before 1978).

When all the work has been finished you may be asked to sign a waiver certifying that the work has been completed.  Before you sign, carefully inspect the work and materials as specified in the contract. Don’t sign if you are not completely satisfied or if the work has not been completed.

Important! Make sure the contract includes these items:

  • The contract includes the contractor’s name, address, phone, license number (if applicable) and the start and completion dates. This sounds simple, but it’s often overlooked.
  • Study the design plans carefully. Insist that you approve them and they are identified in your written contract before any work begins.
  • Think about the scope of the project and make sure all items requested are included. If you do not see a specific item in the contract, consider it not included.
  • A detailed list of materials for the project should be included in the contract, with information such as manufacturer, style name/line, product, model number, size, and color.
  • Warranties covering materials (manufacturer) and/or workmanship (labor) must be included and identified as either “full” or “limited.” The name and address of the party who will honor the warranty (contractor, distributor or manufacturer) must be identified. Make sure the time period and terms are specified.
  • Make sure financial terms are understood and spelled out in the contract. Total price, payment schedule, change orders, and any cancellation penalty should be clear.
  • A dispute resolution clause should be included in the event a disagreement occurs. Consider ways to resolve a dispute without costly litigation.

Lien Waivers

When you contract to remodel your home, the job may be subcontracted to another firm or may require special laborers to do the plumbing, cabinetmaking or electrical wiring. As you pay your primary contractor, they are then supposed to pay these laborers. If the contractor fails to pay them, each laborer, subcontractor or material supplier may have the right to file a claim for a lien against your property for the amount owed to them by the contractor.

The law requires that you receive a lien waiver from the contractor. Discuss with your contractor if you want waivers for partial or final payments. A lien waiver is a receipt which states that the workers and suppliers have been paid and they won’t be asking you for the money you have already paid the contractor.

For more information, contact the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection

Share this article


Related articles

A Cautionary Tale About Permits

A Cautionary Tale About Permits

Depending upon your renovation project, permits may need to be filed with your local municipality. Sounds easy, right? In general, it can be. However, be advised that you should only pull the permit if YOU are doing the work.

10 Things To Do Before A Remodeling Project

10 Things To Do Before A Remodeling Project

Careful planning and preparation are the keys to any home remodeling project. These 10 key steps will help you plan and get prepared for your next home improvement project.


No matter what your style, or convenience standards, a new kitchen can make a huge impact on your family’s day-to-day function. Working with a NARI remodeler is the best way to ensure you end up with the kitchen you need and love.