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Contract Writing for Contractors

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The Basics of Contract Writing

Successful contractors recognize when the time comes to operate using written contracts instead of simple handshakes.  Contract writing is not for everyone, and even those who do it well don’t necessarily enjoy it!  Nevertheless, contracts are a crucial part of your contracting business.   Contracts legally protect your work performed. They also clarify and document the expectations of both you and your client. Lastly, they help ensure that you will be paid for your work.

A good contract comes bundled with an estimate in a project proposal. This blog will run you through the skeleton of a basic project contract and all its necessities. You’ll end with a better understanding of what to include in yours and how to present it all professionally.


What to Include

  • Names
    • Client and your business’ full names and operating entities
  • Address of Project
  • Job Details
    • Reference to scope of work and/or estimate
  • Payment Structure
    • Deposits, payment expectations, time frame
    • Consequence of lack of payment
  • Limitation of Liability Clause
    • States that you are not responsible for repairs to the client’s property unless it is related to negligence or misconduct on your part.
  • Unavoidable Delays/Acts of God Clause
    • Protects against delays that may occur due unforeseen and uncontrollable events such as new government laws, floods, hurricanes, strikes, etc.
  • Change of Conditions Clause
    • Protects you in the event you discover hazardous materials, underground obstructions, or other conditions that could change the scope of work. Allows you to clarify your compensation and termination rights
  • Severability
    • The ability to remove an unenforceable clause without rendering the entire contract void
  • Non-waiver
    • Clarifies that just because you may not actively enforce every clause, the contract is not rendered null and void
  • Survival
    • May contain certain clauses which extend beyond the life of the contract or project
  • Mediation Arbitration
    • An agreement that disputes between you and your client will be settled through mediation and the cost split between parties
  • Governing Law
    • The law of the state where you’re performing work
  • Extent of Agreement
    • All documents including the contract, scope of work, and estimate

Optional to Include:

  • Tentative dates of project
  • Termination Clause
    • Protects your right and the client’s right to terminate the project with notice
  • Expected Standard of Work Claus
  • Confidentiality
    • Protects party from sharing information with third parties


To get started,  you can purchase or use for free a variety of online templates. It’s important to do your research, though, so you have a thorough understanding of what document will suit your specific needs. It’s critical to your project success that you protect yourself in every area.


The benefits of drafting an original contract is that you’ll be able to cater it to include all the specs we listed above. You can also easily brand your contract by placing important company information like name and logo in the document’s footer. Your brand should also be visible on your estimate, scope of work, and anything else included in your proposal.  


If you’re like most contractors, you simply may not have the time for one more task.  If you want confidence that you’re protected and operating legally, we can help.  Apparatus can help you with branded estimate writing, contract templates, and full proposal package services through our A la Carte Program™.  Find details here.

Join the contracting community at ContractorTalk for more business basics.