When running a plumbing business, it’s always a good idea to provide clients with business Terms and Conditions. These are given to your clients (and sometimes communicated on your business’ website) before you do work for them. It is very important that your clients understand that you will only do the work for them if they agree to these Terms and Conditions.

This article sets out what a plumber should include in their Terms and Conditions when hired by clients to do plumbing work.

Definitions section

All plumbing Terms and Conditions should start with a definitions section, which explains what key terms in the document mean – such as “plumber”, “owner”, “work”, “materials”, “price” and should also define any legal terminology in the Terms and Conditions.

Payment and Price

Price and payment are very important clauses in any business’ Terms and Conditions. Your payment terms are essentially up to you, but in many situations plumbers will ask for payment to be made within seven days of the invoice date.  If the work is being done in intervals then you should indicate how payment is to be made and under what time frames.  The method of payment and how taxes will be charged should also be included in the Terms and Conditions.

Time Extensions

It’s important that you cover yourself for any delays in completing the work by having your business lawyer insert a clause into the Terms and Conditions that states that changes to the commencement date as a result of external factors do not result in the contract being repudiated. If certain circumstances prevent you from working, time extensions may be necessary to avoid, jeopardising the quality of the work.

Variations

Scope of work quoted and subsequent changes can be a major source of headaches for tradespeople.  A well drafted set of Terms and Conditions with terms relating to work variation can help nip this problem in the bud before it starts.  Your Terms and Conditions should outline a procedure for dealing with requests from clients for variations – such as putting it in writing and explaining whether or not this was put into the original quote.

Defects

Make sure the Terms and Conditions explain what will happen in the event of a defect or failure to comply with the quote.  One way of doing this is to give the client a notification period to tell the plumber and give the plumber an opportunity to inspect the defective work.

Intellectual Property

In all business Terms and Conditions, there will usually be a provision that provides for the retention of all intellectual property rights. If you have drawn up any plans (blueprints, sketches, designs, etc) for the completion of the job, then your business lawyer should insert a clause that ensures you retain ownership of those plans.

Warranties

To ensure you are fulfilling your obligations under Australian Consumer law, you need to include a warranties section in your Terms and Conditions that acknowledges your obligation to meet all consumer guarantees.  Your warranty will need to state that the customer is entitled to a refund or repair if there is a fault or failure with a service provided.  Consumer guarantees cannot be contract out of, which means you must comply with the Australian Consumer Law irrespective of how your business lawyer drafts your business Terms and Conditions. Warranty clauses should also cover any circumstances in which neither a refund nor repair will be appropriate, such as if the failure stemmed from the client’s own negligence.

Conclusion

Professional, well drafted Terms and Conditions can save you money and reduce disputes in the long run. Terms and Conditions that are specifically tailored for your plumbing business should contain a number of clauses designed to protect you from the risks of dealing with customers, as well as ensure you remain compliant with the law. To speak with one of our experienced business lawyers about drafting or reviewing Terms and Conditions for your plumbing business, contact LegalVision on 1300 544 755.

Lachlan McKnight

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