As a small business owner, getting paid on time and in full is essential. After all, you have to keep the lights on for your business and make sure your employees get paid for their hard work.
In a perfect world, all your clients would pay you the moment you finish a job and for the full amount of the invoice. But that, unfortunately, doesn’t always happen. That’s where including terms and conditions in your estimates can help speed up and clear up the estimate and payment process for you.
Terms and conditions lay out the responsibilities of both you and the client, including the services you’ll provide and how much they’ll cost. This helps to avoid client disputes in the future and sets expectations from the very beginning of your relationship.
Read on to learn which terms and conditions to include in your field service estimates to keep your cash flow steady and client issues at a minimum.
⚠️ Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal, accounting, or tax advice, or a substitute for obtaining such advice specific to your business. Please refer to an experienced lawyer in your jurisdiction for particular information on how to write legally binding terms and conditions.
General terms and conditions samples for every industry
There are some general estimate terms and conditions that virtually every service business can benefit from. For example, consider including the following examples in your estimates to strengthen them.
1. Payment terms
No matter which industry you’re in, any estimates you provide to clients should include payment terms and pricing information. Payment terms inform the customer of the amount due, when and how to make payments, as well as the consequences of paying late.
Here’s an example of payment terms you might see on an estimate:
A 50% deposit is due upfront. The remaining balance is due within 14 business days of the final invoice date, which will be provided to the client within 7 days after the project has been completed.
Acceptable methods of payment include cash, check, credit card, and electronic payment. Late payments are subject to a $15 late charge. Late charges will be applied every 30 days an invoice remains unpaid.
2. Tax terms
Tax terms ensure that a customer knows they’re responsible for any taxes related to the services you provide. For example:
The client is responsible for all applicable federal, state, and local taxes levied on the transaction as described in this estimate. No tax exemptions will be recognized unless a valid tax exemption certificate is provided.
3. Service terms
Service terms refer to the scope of the project and the services you are providing to a client. They clarify that, if the customer agrees, your company will perform the services outlined in the estimate and that any additional services will come at an additional cost.
Here’s what service terms may look like on an estimate:
By accepting the terms of this estimate, [company name] will perform the services as described in this document. Any additional work not covered in this estimate will incur additional charges.
4. Schedule terms
Scheduling terms refer to when the services will be performed. For example:
[Company name] will complete the services as per the schedule provided within this estimate.
5. Changes terms
Changes terms apply to any changes a client requests to the estimate and how any additional expenses will be paid for. Here’s an example of change terms you might see in an estimate:
Any changes requested by the client to quantities, specifications, schedule, or other aspects of the services described in this estimate are not binding unless accepted by [company name] in writing. Any requested changes may lead to additional charges, which the client agrees to pay when requesting and approving them.
6. General disclaimer
Because an estimate can change based on factors like the price of parts, project requirements, or customer requests, a general disclaimer lets clients know that the final price is only an approximation.
Most general disclaimers will also include an expiry date for the estimate. This helps service providers to keep their estimates relevant and gives them an opportunity to make adjustments if a client waits too long to move forward.
Here’s what a general disclaimer might look like on a service provider’s estimate:
This estimate is not guaranteed. The price named in the estimate is an approximation of the project requirements as described by the client. The actual cost may change after all of the project elements have been negotiated and finalized. The client will be informed of any changes in cost in advance.
This estimate is valid until [date].
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Industry-specific estimate disclaimer samples
Because each industry is different, you may need to include specific disclaimers in your estimates related to the services you provide.
Along with general terms and conditions, here are some examples of industry-specific terms and conditions you may want to include in your estimates.
1. Plumbing terms and conditions
Many plumbing estimates include the following disclaimers in their estimates:
- We do not warranty clogged drains
- We do not warranty frozen pipes
- We do not warranty parts provided by clients
2. Handyman terms and conditions estimate disclaimer
Handymen often include the following disclaimers in their estimate:
- Finishing materials should be provided by the client
- Client must clear workspace of fragile and personal items
- Service requests between the hours of 5:00pm and 10:00pm or on weekends and statutory holidays are subject to off hours pricing
3. Carpentry terms and conditions
Carpenters and woodworkers may include estimate disclaimers such as:
- As a natural product, wood and timber is subject to variations in color and grain
- We do not install, adjust, or fit any electric or gas appliances or equipment
- The client is responsible for cleaning any dust or dirt accumulated during the work period
4. Electrical contractor invoice terms and conditions
Electricians sometimes include the following disclaimers in their terms and conditions:
- The client must clearly mark and identify all services above and below the ground at the work site, including drains, pipes, and sewers
- All electric installations will comply with building regulations in force at the time of the work
- Cables will be concealed where possible but will be run on the surface when deemed necessary by [company name]
5. Construction quotation terms and conditions
In construction, some service providers use the following terms and conditions:
- The contractor agrees to provide all materials, labor, supplies, equipment, supervision, and project management required to complete the project
- The [owner or contractor] will be responsible for obtaining any permits relevant to the project and will keep them in good standing
- The contractor will allow the owner to conduct a completion inspection within [X days] of the project being completed and to provide the contractor with a list of any items to be completed or corrected
Are disclaimers legally binding?
Disclaimers are legally binding as long as they are part of a contract. In order to be considered a valid contract, a document must:
- Be in writing. The contract needs to be in writing, with each term and disclaimer clearly described.
- Include consideration. Consideration is the legal term for what the client will receive in exchange for agreeing to the contract, such as the services you will perform for them.
- Outline obligations. Obligations are the responsibilities each party takes on in order to fulfill the contract. For example, a plumber is obligated to repair a leaking faucet while their client is obligated to pay them for the completion of the work.
- Be accepted and acknowledged. This is usually in the form of a signature. Other forms of acceptance can include taking actions like paying a deposit, sending an email confirmation, or acknowledging the terms by checking a box and clicking a button to proceed.
It’s important to remember that your disclaimers and terms are legal within your state or area, and in order for them to be successful, contracts must be clear and straightforward.
That being said, it’s a good idea to have a lawyer review your estimate template to ensure your terms and conditions are legally binding in case there’s a disagreement with the customer down the road.
Adding terms and conditions to contractor estimates
Terms and conditions protect both you and your clients, so it’s vital that you include them in your home service quotes. Any disclaimers you use should be consistent across customers—quoting software makes standardizing your terms and conditions straightforward, and fast. It also keeps client expectations in check so you can focus on the next job at hand.
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