Residential Construction Contracts
Browse the Web for residential construction contracts and you'll see braggadocio
about some boilerplate contract being "legal in all 50 states."
Claims like this show up on Web sites run by savvy people with good credentials
but who should know better. If you've been working as a California contractor for
a while, you know how foolish it is for any vendor to claim their residential construction
contract forms are "legal in all 50 states."
Every state has the right to set unique requirements for construction contracts.
And California certainly has.
You can take this to the bank: CA residential construction contract forms are unique.
No residential construction contract form from any other state meets California
Construction contract law varies from state to state the same way income tax law
varies from state to state. Imagine the reaction if you tried to file a New York
or Texas income tax return with the Montana Department of Revenue. You'd probably
be breaking the law in two states.
Even if you aren't concerned about fines and jail time, consider the impact if you
get into a dispute before collecting final payment. The attorney for your client
won't be impressed with your "legal in all 50 states" contract. More likely,
you'll discover that the contract is either partially or totally unenforceable under
California law. Game over! You lose. Run, don't walk, to the nearest exit. You're
not going to collect another dime on that contract. If opposing counsel is charitable,
you'll escape discipline from the state board. Persist and you'll get an invitation
to do the perp walk at a state hearing.
When you see the claim, "legal in all 50 states," I recommend thinking
"probably not legal in any state." The latter is far
more likely than the former.
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