How to draw up a work contract with a craftsman

You own a property that is in a state of disrepair and you are planning to renovate it. Because you don’t want to end up like Pat and Mat, you reach out to professionals with whom you contract the work.

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What kind of contract to draw up?

Anyone who has ever renovated an apartment knows how difficult it is nowadays to find a craftsman, let alone a good one. Few then remember to draw up a contract for the work. Most people are already so exhausted from looking and are glad they found one. Alternatively, people will sign whatever they submit to the construction company, which may not be a guarantee for them. Often such a contract is not even in writing, yet by having a contract with clearly defined terms and conditions we can avoid many problems.

For example, marketing experts Honza and Jana decided to renovate their apartment according to their ideas, which they had thought about for a long time. However, the work contract submitted by the construction company contained only a general, vague definition of the work. It did not contain a specific description of how the apartment should look after the reconstruction. The contract therefore had to be supplemented. In this way, Honza and Jana avoided, for example, having cheap red tiles in the kitchen instead of the dream white tiles.

A good written contract should therefore be a matter of course when renovating a house or other property. This will prevent many problems and guesswork. Central to the contract should be the definition of the work itself, i.e. the specification of the work to be carried out for the customer. The more general the description, the more freedom the contractor will have in creating the work and the customer, apart from the general level, will not know in what form he will receive the work. If the work is described in general terms, the customer would also not be able to claim that the work does not correspond to his specific ideas. In this respect, care should be taken when using the various freely downloadable model contracts. A downloadable model contract will never contain a consistent definition of the work to suit the specific situation and need. If the work is not defined at all or is described vaguely, the contract could be invalid.

It is important for both parties to set a deadline by which the renovation work is to be completed. This way, the client will know when he will be able to move into his renovated apartment and the contractor will be able to plan future contracts. In case of failure to meet the deadline for completion of the work, it is advisable to negotiate a contractual penalty. With a contractual penalty, the customer will have more leverage to meet the deadline. In the event of a longer delay, the customer can also withdraw from the contract and demand a refund.

Money always comes first, as it is sometimes said. Thus, payment terms should be defined in the contract as precisely as possible. The tradesman who carries out the work will often need advances during the course of the work in order to purchase materials and pay for other necessary expenses. The client, on the other hand, will expect to pay part of the price for the work after it has been completed, in case it is poorly done. It is therefore important to set not only the price for the entire job itself, but also the amount and due dates of the individual deposits. This should be linked to the handover of specific works. It is therefore always necessary to draw up a handover report, at least at the end of the entire work.

The amount of the price should then ideally be determined quite specifically and, finally, because if it is determined by an estimate or an unguaranteed budget, it can be increased additionally under certain conditions. It may be expressly recommended to exclude up-front remuneration for extra work and to tie it only to a further possible agreement.

Contract for work

We will draw up a contract for the work or check the existing one. This way you can be sure that the delivery of the work will be legally sound and free from ambiguity. We will resolve the matter quickly, no matter where you are from in the country. You can pay after the service has been provided.

How to enforce performance

But what if we don’t have a written contract? Does that mean there was no contract? A contract for work can be concluded verbally, or even via an e-mail order. So we always have a contract. In the event of a dispute about the content of such a contract, it is possible to prove everything by any means. Witnesses can be called, emails or invoices can be produced. It may also be advisable to keep photographic documentation.

However, it is best to have a clear contract, as litigation over work is one of the most difficult. Expert reports and proving a specific agreement lead to unreasonable prolongation of such litigation. In addition, the court often ends up making a “charlatan” decision and awards only half of the compensation. In effect, it will say that the truth was partly on both sides. It is therefore better to reach an amicable settlement.

If the apartment that necessarily requires repair is rented, the landlord must inform the tenant in advance of the intended repairs. The tenant must tolerate such repairs, even if they are likely to be inconvenient for him. If the repairs take an unreasonably long time and make the use of the flat significantly more difficult, the tenant is entitled to a reduction in the rent according to the length of the repairs and the extent of the repairs. However, if the repairs are for a period during which the flat cannot be used at all, typically during a complete renovation, the tenant has the right to have the landlord provide temporary alternative accommodation or to terminate the tenancy without notice.

If the apartment has to be evicted, the landlord will reimburse the tenant for the cost of the eviction and provide the tenant with a security deposit. If the tenant refuses to vacate in the case of a modification where his consent is not required, the landlord may ask the court to order the apartment to be vacated. He has 10 days from the refusal to do so.

To make things fair and balanced, the tenant can also make alterations and modifications to the flat, but only with the landlord’s consent. However, the landlord may not refuse consent to alterations to the flat that are necessary due to the health of the occupant without just cause. This includes, for example, installing wider doors or lowering thresholds. If he or she does not give consent, the court can replace it on the tenant’s application.

Making changes to the flat without the landlord’s consent can lead to the landlord giving notice without notice if the tenant fails to put everything back in its original state at the landlord’s request.

This article was prepared for the Lidové noviny series “Law & Housing”. See also other articles from the series:

  1. What to watch out for when buying a property
  2. How to get a mortgage
  3. What to check before buying a property
  4. Who pays the property transfer tax and how?
  5. What should be included in the property purchase contract
  6. The most common mistakes when drafting a proposal to the Land Registry
  7. Buying a property from a developer
  8. Keeping the purchase price when buying a property
  9. The difference between a condominium and a freehold
  10. What is an annuity?
  11. How to properly gift a property
  12. What is the purpose of an easement or servitude?
  13. Making a will and settling an estate
  14. What is a collation
  15. What shouldn’t be missing from a lease agreement
  16. When rent increases can be made
  17. Termination of the lease
  18. Agreement to end the tenancy
  19. How to draw up a work contract with a tradesman
  20. Hidden defects and cancellation of a work contract
  21. When do you need planning permission to renovate a property?
  22. Home Rules
  23. What does serving on a condominium board entail?
  24. Why not underestimate the bylaws in a condominium
  25. Common areas in a block of flats
  26. What is involved in refurbishing a block of flats
  27. Can a condominium or housing association go into debt?
  28. How to renovate a house or cottage
  29. What to watch out for when dealing with a construction “company”?
  30. Building a house on a “green field”
  31. How to remove land from the agricultural fund

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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