The nature of the contractor-homeowner relationship is unique, and one that can invariably lead to heated disputes. Homeowners generally feel at a disadvantage, due to the specialized knowledge required to estimate costs, time, and complete the project. Contractors often have difficulty accurately predicting costs, and change-orders or modifications arise. An attorney can be an ally for any project, and a proactive approach can prevent disputes.
With respect to large scale projects, additions, and renovations, homeowners should consult an attorney prior to signing or negotiating contracts. Legal fees paid at the outset, can potentially save money, time, and stress in the event of a dispute. The benefits of preventative legal oversight cannot be overstated. A small expenditure at the onset is far more effective than addressing a dispute after it has occurred. For smaller projects, a little preparation can ensure your project is more likely to proceed in a satisfactory manner.
Homeowners in the Commonwealth have significant rights pursuant to the Home Improvement Contractor Act. For example, the following is a brief list of contractor requirements:
- All contracts over $1,000.00 MUST be in writing.
- The contract must include the contractor’s name, start and completion dates, description of the work, total contract amount, and signatures of all parties
- Contractor MUST NOT demand a deposit greater than 1/3rd of the contract total
- Final payments cannot be demanded until all parties are “satisfied”
- The contract must list all required permits
- The contractor’s registration number MUST appear on the contract, the permits, and any advertising
- The contractor MUST adhere to all building codes and regulations
…and this is just a small sampling of your potential rights under the laws and regulations pursuant to home improvement contracts.
If you are a homewoner experiencing even minor issues with your home improvement contractor – call this office immediately. Generally, the earlier one seeks to improve a dispute, the better the potential outcome. Further, if you are a residential contractor experiencing difficulty with a particular client, contact this office for a review of the facts and circumstances.