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Lawyer’s Checklist to Ensure Proper Renovations in Georgia

We detail contract drafting, payment procedures, and documenting contractor deficiencies
December 25, 2023
Shalva Giorgadze, lawyer JUST Advisors
Renovations in Georgia can be a costly service, with costs ranging from $ 200 to $ 500 per square meter. Consequently, the average cost of finishing even a small apartment in Tbilisi is around $ 10,000, excluding furnishings and materials. However, no matter how high the price, it does not guarantee quality work. To help you legally protect your interests and, in some cases, seek refunds, we have prepared a checklist for you.

Сhoosing a contractor

Firstly, thoroughly examine the candidate, whether it’s an individual contractor or a company: review their portfolio, search for reviews online and on social media platforms (especially on Facebook, which is the most popular platform in the country). Try to assess the contractor’s past work not merely through photos but by inspecting real-life projects. For instance, reach out to their previous clients who were once in your position; they might share their opinions and potentially invite you for a site visit.

Secondly, verify the legal reliability of the contractor. Renovation work in Georgia doesn’t require special permits from regulatory bodies, meaning anyone can undertake them. Therefore, vigilance is crucial. Find out if the contractor or company has assets that could be used to recover damages in potential future disputes.

Additionally, confirm the candidate’s official registration. Request an extract from the public registry or their identification/passport, and clarify in what capacity they will be acting: as an individual or a sole proprietor.

What should be included in the contract

Incorporate the following into the contract:
  • 1
    Scope of Work — Detail what you expect from the contractor, including specifics about their services. If the process is crucial, describe it; if the outcome matters more, outline that as well. The more detailed, the lower the risk of misunderstanding in the future.
  • 2
    Timeline for Completion — Define precise timeframes for the renovation. These can be expressed in calendar days or hours of work. If the task is extensive, breaking it down into stages with specific durations is advisable.
  • 3
    Cost Breakdown — Specify the total cost of all work or individual services if multiple types of work are involved. The latter option is preferable; it simplifies financial settlements if you wish to forego some tasks during the renovation or if certain tasks are executed poorly.
  • 4
    Payment Arrangement — Avoid a 100% advance payment. Recommend an upfront payment not exceeding 30% of the total renovation cost, with the remainder paid progressively after accepting each work phase.
  • 5
    Acceptance Procedures — Discuss in advance how you will accept completed work. For instance, experts suggest immediately accepting concealed work (within walls, under ceilings, under flooring screed) upon completion, while other tasks align with stages outlined in the contract. Always document acceptance in writing, noting any deficiencies.
  • 6
    Accountability for Delays and Subpar Work — Specify penalties for delayed completion of work in the contract; otherwise, claiming compensation might be challenging without documented losses.
  • 7
    Consequences of Unresolved Deficiencies — Outline that if the contractor fails to rectify deficiencies within the agreed timeframe, you have the right to rectify them independently, with the contractor bearing the additional costs.
Additionally, define who will procure materials. If it’s the contractor, provide comprehensive details of the required materials, including the manufacturer and product brand (if significant to you).

How and what agreements to document

To safeguard yourself legally, document any agreements in writing.

Ideally, all agreements should be formalized within a contract, accompanied by estimates that describe the types and costs of work. The contract can be signed in person or exchanged as scanned copies signed by each party.

Agreements conveyed through electronic correspondence are also acceptable and can serve as evidence in court. It’s crucial, however, that the correspondence clearly indicates the agreement of specific terms. For instance, if the contractor responds with "okay," it should be evident what exact details they are approving.

Avoid fixing agreements solely through audio messages, as they often allow for different interpretations. It’s also not recommended to record conversations without the contractor’s prior consent; such recordings might not be admissible in court.

Regarding payments: if you are paying in cash, obtain receipts signed by the contractor as confirmation. SMS confirmations specifying the payment’s purpose are also acceptable. For payments made via bank transfer, indicate the purpose of the payment in the transaction description.
The correspondence and contract should be in a language understandable to both parties. To avoid misunderstandings, specify at the outset which language—Georgian, Russian, or English, for instance—is mutually comprehensible and acceptable for communication between the parties.

What to do if the work is not completed or is done poorly

Remember, work can only be considered incomplete if it was agreed upon initially but not delivered, while deficiencies refer to instances that do not meet the agreed-upon standards. Here, we circle back to the importance of having a contract.

Document all identified deficiencies and unfinished work in writing, discuss them with the contractor, and set deadlines for rectification. It’s advisable to specify these details in the contract, including the consequences of unresolved deficiencies—stating your right to rectify these deficiencies yourself, with the contractor bearing the additional expenses.

If the contractor refuses to sign a document acknowledging the identified deficiencies or disagrees with it, document this and send the document to them via email or messaging apps. If the deficiencies remain unresolved, it’s prudent to bring in an expert to document the scope and quality of the completed work. Only after this step should you commence rectifying the deficiencies either by yourself or with another contractor. The expert’s assessment will serve as unequivocal evidence in seeking compensation in court.

Once again, for legal security, ensure you have a comprehensive contract with contractors, and to gather as much evidence as possible, document all communication with the contractor in writing. If possible, try to avoid using audio messages. Adhering to the steps outlined in the article will save you time, money, and stress, increasing the likelihood that the renovation will not only look visually pleasing but also be durable.
For any legal assistance, contact JUST Advisors. You can check the list of our services for individuals here, and for companies, follow this link.

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