Before you lift a hammer on a project, make sure that you have a written contract (prepared by a lawyer) to protect you in the event you must institute legal proceedings to collect.
Important terms are as follows:
1. Venue for disputes--This sets the location for any dispute between the parties. If you are working on a project in Mobile, Alabama--then you should have a venue paragraph that sets Mobile County, Alabama as the venue for all disputes. If you are working with an out-of-state general contractor beware of attempts by the general contractor to set venue for some other state.
2. Governing Law--This sets forth the law that will govern the dispute between the parties. Again, if working in Alabama then Alabama law should be applied.
3. Attorneys' fees--If you have to institute a collection action, you should have a paragraph in your contract that entitles you to attorneys' fees incurred as a result of hiring a lawyer to help you collect.
4. Dispute Resolution--You can decide to have your disputes resolved in Court or before an Arbitrator. Good arguments for both forums exist, but overall I think the Courts are the best forum. You already pay taxes to fund a court system, why pay an arbitrator by the hour to resolve your dispute?
**If you'd like to have a written contract prepared by our firm please give us a call and we'd be happy to meet with you to discuss your needs.