A completion certificate is essentially a form presented to the client after the job has been completed, usually by the installer. The customer signs the form, indicating that he or she is satisfied with the work performed and that the job is finished.
Whether a completion certificate is a good idea for your business depends in large part on your operations and the problems you tend to encounter with customers after the job is completed. At its most basic, the completion certificate can be the final touch to indicate that a job is done and closed. It is often relied on to counter arguments raised later that, in fact, the job was not finished as promised or that the consumer was not satisfied with the work performed.
This is why almost all lenders and finance companies require that a completion certificate be obtained from the customer before they will agree to fund or approve the job's final financing. But, even if you are not financing a job, you may want to consider using a completion certificate. A well-drafted one can goa long way to protecting a contractor from any number of problems that can arise after the job's completion.
Consider, for example, some of the clauses we often place in our clients'completion certificates, and how they might be helpful to you:
The job has been completed to my satisfaction.
I don't have any complaints.
I knew I had a right to cancel this transaction when I signed the contract, andI chose not to cancel the contract.
I was not promised any payment or refund by my sales representative. If you feel that the completion certificate is not really necessary and is just another form for your installer or sales representative to deal with, then you might consider using the completion certificate only on “problem” jobs. For example, if you have a difficult client and a job that is taking too long to finish due to ongoing complaints, you may want to consider using a completion certificate after the last “round” of servicing to try to put a stop to a “never-ending job.” Just make sure you word your completion certificate carefully.
—D.S.Berenson is the Washington, D.C., managing partner of Johanson Berenson LLP (www.homeimprovementlaw.com), a national law firm specializing in the representation of contractors and the home improvement industry. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.