Guidelines for Home Improvement Contractors
Ever since Hurricane Sandy devastated the Jersey coastline, people and businesses have been struggling to rebuild the damage in its wake. To date it is the second costliest hurricane since 1900, with about fifty billion dollars in total damages and over 346,000 homes damaged in New Jersey alone. With so much left to repair, it’s opened a large need for handymen in the home improvement and new home builders industry. Problems with insurance payouts have exacerbated the issue. If you were part of the group caught up in this scenario, it might be tempting to accept an offer from any guy who says he can do what you need, cheap, just to get the job done. But is your contractor following proper guidelines? Did you know that all home improvement contractors in the State of New Jersey need a license to perform home repair work?
Unfortunately, home improvement fraud has become one of the most common types of consumer fraud. Due to the alarming amount of complaints about missed deadlines, shoddy workmanship, and even failure to complete projects, the State responded by enacting the Home Improvement Practices Act, along with the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (the CFA). These laws set very stringent regulations for home improvement contracts. Under these protective statutes, contractors are required to annually register with the State Division of Consumer Affairs. Those who do not will not be issued municipal construction permits, meaning a contractor who does not go through this process is not qualified to complete home improvement work in New Jersey.
Statement of Work
Also, any home improvement work to be done in excess of $500 must be in writing and include these elements:
- The contractor’s name, address, and State registration number
- Description of the work to be done
- Total contract price to be paid
- Project start and end date
- Description of supplies to be used
- Statement of warranty or guarantee for any materials, products, labor, or services
- Description of security or mortgage interest in connection with the financing or sale of the home improvement
Your contractor also needs to provide you with a copy of his general liability insurance before you sign the contract. They also need to tell you, in writing, that you can cancel your signed contract for any reason before midnight on the third business day. Also be aware of what your contractor cannot do. They can not demand a final payment before the completion of work, or until the final municipal inspection has taken place. Make your contractor obtain all necessary construction permits before starting any work.
Complaint Against a Contractor
So what do you do if you have a complaint against your home improvement contractor? The easiest way is to try and resolve the issue directly with the contractor and give them the opportunity to correct the problem. In the event that doesn’t work, contact an attorney well-versed in construction law to assist you in resolving your dispute. According to the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, any contractor violating the Act is required by law to pay three times your actual damages in addition to your attorney fees. So if a construction dispute does arise, call me, Mark A. Schneider, today for a free consultation at (609) 242-9337. In matters like these, you need an attorney with a proven track record of winning Consumer Fraud and Construction Negligence case.