The Importance Of Getting A Job Confirmed In Writing | Checkatrade
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The importance of getting a job confirmed in writing

A work contract agreement with customers protects a tradesperson’s business and reputation. This article runs through what to include in a written agreement contract.

A Schedule of Works agreement – or contract – is essential for both tradespeople and their customers. Your customers will probably expect some kind of work contract agreement. And not just for large, complicated jobs.

Providing a work agreement contract should keep all parties happy. Both of you will know exactly what is expected before a job starts. The result should be satisfied and more loyal customers.

Dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s helps ensure there is no confusion or disagreement once you start a job. It should also set clear goals and targets for the tradesperson to achieve.

Furthermore, tradespeople want to reduce the risk of rogue traders in their area giving everyone a bad reputation. This negative element can be tackled by agreeing terms in advance in a Schedule of Works agreement.

What is a work agreement with a contractor?

It’s a written contract signed by the tradesperson and customer. Probably the most important entry in a contract is the price and what this includes.

Importantly, a contract is a legally-binding document that holds both parties to a working agreement. This is helpful if anything unexpected happens or a dispute arises over the work done.

When should you have a written contract agreement?

We caught up with Checkatrade member Mark Elliott from S4G Drone Services to find out more about written business-to-customer contracts and just how important they are.

So, when should you have a written contract between a tradesperson and a customer?

“As soon as possible”, says Mark. “Having a contract and a Schedule of Works (for larger projects) is our “belt and braces” approach. This ensures that we always know what is expected from us. We always try and get everything agreed in writing.”

We highly recommend that you should have a written work contract agreement with every customer you work with. This is best practice to maintain compliance and communicate with your customer exactly what your relationship entails.

It’s also essential to update the terms outlined in the contract if they change as the project progresses.

Builder asking couple to sign written contract

A work agreement is good for everyone

Work contract agreements are essential as they serve as a record of the agreement for both parties. This can prevent future conflicts and reduce the risk of one party not keeping to their part of the agreement.

As well as protecting both parties, a written contract can serve as a communication tool, laying out the terms of the work.

“Having a written contract or work schedule is a clear reference point. No one wants to hear the words ‘Can you just’ – either as a tradesperson, or a customer” says Mark.

The written contract also helps to protect a tradesperson’s revenue. It is a binding agreement that in exchange for their services, the customer will make the agreed payment. The contract shows the tradesperson is professional and works to high standards by being open and transparent.

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Keeping accurate records

As well as the work contract agreement, keeping accurate records helps to avoid problems or disputes during a job. These should include:

  • Timesheets
  • Invoices for goods, materials and equipment you purchase
  • Correspondence with customers

Remember to retain digital correspondence such as text and WhatsApp messages, emails and phone messages. This can help you to ensure that work was undertaken according to the terms of the work agreement with contractor.

What to include in a Schedule of Works agreement

A work contract agreement should be in writing. It can be on paper or digital. However you choose to frame it for your business, a Schedule of Works (SOW) lays out clearly what the expectations are for both tradesperson and customer.

The contract should be written in clear, straightforward language to avoid any confusion. Both you and the customer should sign it.

Sometimes, what is left out of a contract is just as important as what it includes. To avoid confusion, always ensure you include all relevant information.

You should ensure the following are included in a Schedule of Works agreement:

Customer and tradesperson details

Make sure you accurately record the details of your business, as well as those of the customer receiving the work.

Membership of trade associations

Trade associations and membership organisations like Checkatrade improve the profile and reputation of tradespeople. They rigorously check each member’s credentials.

This provides customers with peace of mind. By including the details in the written contract you provide customers with further assurance of your professionalism.

Bona fide subcontractor at a building site

Work to be carried out

You need to outline fully the work that will be carried out and be specific about what the work entails. This minimises the chances of disputes regarding the work.

Materials to be used

Include materials that are to be used. Ensure the customer is aware of what each material will be used for.

Quality standards

The work contract agreement is an opportunity to explain clearly whether you might change aspects if you have to. For example, changing the agreed materials to alternatives if they aren’t available.

You could also confirm with the customer that you will first discuss changes before you make them. This helps the customer to make better-informed decisions as the job progresses.

Contracts often include a ‘quality sign-off’ clause, where the customer checks and approves work during a job. This protects both the tradesperson as well.

Dealing with unexpected circumstances

The Schedule of Works agreement is the place to outline what you will do if unforeseen issues crop up. This is particularly important if it has an impact on the cost.

Price of the job and payment terms

The price of the job should be included in the contract to avoid any disagreement once the project is complete. Our free job pricing template is useful to make sure you include all of your costs.

Putting everything in writing can reduce the risk of disputes. A budget planner can help.

Payment details could include:

  • The total agreed price
  • VAT, if appropriate
  • Payments in advance and during the job
  • What happens with payment terms if the job timeline changes

Start and finish dates

Include the dates the work will be carried out and completed, so the customer knows what to expect from the project and how long the work will take.

It can be handy to include some project milestone dates as well. This helps you and the customer keep track of progress during a job.

Planning permission, guarantees and insurance

You should make your customer aware of any planning permission that may be required. The same applies to whether permits are needed for work to be carried out. Some projects may also require official approval, such as building work.

Include details of guarantees and warranties. This applies both to your work and the materials, products or equipment involved in the job.

If you need certain insurance to carry out a job it should be mentioned in the contract. One of the most common types is public liability insurance if you cause damage to property or injuries to people.

Professional indemnity insurance is another key type of cover for tradespeople.

Reassuring customers with an insurance backed guarantee

Cancellation and changes

The contract should also include any terms and conditions regarding the cancellation of a job. It should also explain how you or the customer can change any aspect of a contract. For example, if the customer asks you to do work that isn’t in the original contract.

Resolving disputes

If a disagreement or dispute occurs then it helps if the contract says what actions should follow. It can help you save time and money if a process is agreed in advance. This could involve some kind of mediation or arbitration rather than resorting to legal action. Dealing with unhappy customers takes skill and patience.

Signature of customer and tradesperson

Finally, the contract should be signed by both the customer and the builder to bind the agreement.


Why should I make a written agreement contract with my customers?

Putting an agreement in writing protects both tradespeople and their customers as both parties have a clear understanding of the work to be undertaken.

Does a work agreement with a contractor help reduce risks to customers from rogue traders?

Yes, it should do. Having a written contract shows that tradespeople are professional, open and accountable, which reassures customers.

Should a Schedule of Works agreement include payment terms?

Definitely. A work contract agreement is the place to clearly say when payments are expected, including prepayments and payments by instalments.

Can you change a work agreement contract once you’ve started a job?

A work contract agreement can include details about altering aspects of a job, which may be necessary if circumstances change. This helps to reduce the risk of misunderstandings or disputes.

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This is information – not financial advice or recommendation. The content and materials featured or linked to on this blog are for your information and education only and are not intended to address your particular personal requirements. The information does not constitute financial advice or recommendation and should not be considered as such. Checkatrade website is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), its authors are not financial advisors, and it is therefore not authorised to offer financial advice.
Always do your own research and seek independent financial advice when required. Any arrangement made between you and any third party named or linked to from the site is at your sole risk and responsibility. Checkatrade blog and its associated writers assume no liability for your actions.

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