What Should I Look for in a Christmas Decorator’s Contract?
If you’re considering hiring one of the Christmas decorating companies in your area, it’s critical that you know exactly what you’re getting before you sign any paperwork. Since every company handles Christmas yard decorations a little differently, reviewing these six key points to look for in the contract can help you decide whether to sign on the dotted line or make it a DIY project.
While the overall cost of the service may be the most obvious thing to look for in any contract, it’s about more than just the total amount. Unless you’ve previously worked with this Christmas decorator, it’s not usually a good idea to pay the full amount upfront. For this reason, many Christmas decorating companies break their costs down into a deposit, amount due after installation and amount due after takedown. It may also be an upfront deposit with the final amount due once they take the lights down.
If it’s not specified in the contract, this is also the time to find out about any extras that they could charge you for.
When the extent of the Christmas decorating is limited to outside, it’s likely that you won’t need to be home during installation; however, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing for you to do. Common homeowner responsibilities include:
- Ensuring outdoor outlets are on
- Shutting off the sprinklers
- Supplying lights, hanging supplies and extension cords
- Untangling and checking old string lights.
Of course, if you’re working with a company that brings all the supplies, you only need to ensure you have adequate voltage outside and that the sprinklers aren’t on.
This is a section you want to pay special attention to because not knowing exactly what you’re paying for could lead to significant additional charges. Specifically, this section should spell out:
- Homeowner responsibilities
- Included maintenance
- Scope of work
- Type of lights/decorations used
- When they’ll take down the lights (if it’s included)
- Whether storage of outdoor Christmas lights and decorations is included.
Licensing and Insurance
Working with a licensed and insured professional is critical any time you hire someone to perform potentially dangerous work around the home. If you work with someone who doesn’t have liability insurance, you may have to file a claim with your home insurance policy if they hurt themselves while hanging lights or damage your property. With an insured Christmas decorating company, their insurance should cover these scenarios. You can also ask to be added as an insured to the contractor’s liability policy.
The contract will also spell out any caveats to this policy. While the contractor will make all reasonable efforts to minimize the damage to your home, hanging wreaths, string lights or other decorations could leave small holes from nails or staples.
Whether or not maintenance is provided during the holiday season will depend on the type of Christmas decorator you use. If you provided the lights and they merely hung them for you, it’s unlikely they’ll make a free house call to troubleshoot issues.
On the other hand, a company that provided all the lights and outdoor Christmas decorations often includes maintenance during the season. This means that if your 7-foot snow globe deflates a week after installation, you can usually count on the company to come out for repairs or replacement. Lighting can be a little different, as some companies will require a certain number of bulbs to burn out before they’ll come out to replace them.
Takedown and Storage Policy
The beauty of working with full-service Christmas decorating companies is that takedown and storage off all supplies is usually a free service offered to entice home and business owners to use them. When you supply the string lights, you may be required to continue storing everything yourself. Takedown services will depend on the person you hired to hang the lights.
Either way, be sure you thoroughly understand the policy on this, as adding takedown and/or storage after the fact could significantly increase your outdoor Christmas lighting cost.