Missing Items From Home Improvement Contracts Render Them Illegal

California imposes very specific requirements on contractors who draft, prepare, and submit home improvement contracts to consumers. If a contractor fails to meet the minimum requirements then their contracts are potentially illegal, unenforceable, and the contractor could lose the benefits the contract was designed to provide them.

Notwithstanding the granite countertops, the cabinets, or the carpet, the contractor you choose is the most important decision in the entire home improvement project. A very easy way to tell if you are dealing with a true professional contractor is by looking at their proposed contract very carefully. When I say carefully I mean to take the document and have a competent attorney review it. The contract will tell you a lot of information about the contractor without even having to speak with them. For example, California Business and Professions Code 7159 et seq. has very specific requirements designed to protect consumers against contractors. If the contract does not have these minimum protections you should be very wary of the contractor whom you are about to do business with. Some of the protections are as follows:

A home improvement contract and any changes to the contract shall be in writing and signed by the parties;

It must include the name, business address, and license number of the Contractor;

“Home Improvement” heading must be on the contract in at least 10-point boldface type;

“Contract Price” heading followed by the amount of the Contract;

“Description of the Project and Materials to be Used” heading

“Down payment” heading that states DOWN PAYMENT MAY NOT EXCEED $1,000 OR 10% OF CONTRACT PRICE”;

“Schedule of Progress Payments” heading with each progress payment stated and specifically referencing the amount of work performed and materials provided;

“Approximate Start Date” heading;

“Approximate Completion Date” heading;

“Note about Extra Work and Change Orders” heading

Commercial general liability insurance notice indicating whether or not the Contractor has insurance;

Workers’ compensation insurance notice indicating whether or not the Contractor has worker’s compensation insurance;

A mechanic’s lien warning notice describing to a consumer the issues of mechanic’s lien rights held by contractors;

Joint Check provisions wherein a consumer can make a check payable to both the contractor and the subcontractor or material supplier to protect them from being double billed;

Information about the Contractors’ State License Board (CSLB);

“Three-Day Right to Cancel” notice that gives a consumer 72 hours to cancel a contract without penalties;

This above list is a few of the common items that contractors fail to include in their contracts. If one or more of these items are missing from your contract please have it thoroughly reviewed before signing it.

Additional common questions to ask the contractor include:

How long has the contractor been in business in the state? Check their license status on the contractor’s state licensing board website.

The contractor should have a business history in your area including a list of references, phone numbers and email addresses. If they can’t provide references consider looking elsewhere. Hiring a contractor to complete a project where another has gone out of business can be costly and disastrous.

Get the names and contact information for everyone, including subcontractors, sub-subcontractors and employees who will be working on your property and insist on a full-time project supervisor.

There are dozens of other questions to ask during the selection process all of which are equally important. There are also other protective clauses that you can request to be included in the contract. For additional information about these areas contact a competent attorney who is familiar with construction contractor, contractors, and the contractors state licensing laws.

Understanding More About Home Improvement Contractors

Home improvement contractors cannot legally take up projects and otherwise work as contractors unless they are licensed. There is one license issuing authority in every state of the USA. Note the following points:

– The license is proof of the competence and capability of the license holder to work as a home improvement contractor.

– If you employ an unlicensed contractor, the work carried out shall be considered illegal.

– If such a person is utilized to install a product, the owner of the product faces the risk of losing the advantages of all warranties and insurance policies on the product. If something goes wrong during the installation, the owner shall have no protection whatsoever.

– Any person desirous of starting a construction business should contact the proper authorities to obtain the licenses and registrations.

The process is time consuming one and should be commenced at least six months prior to the planned date of commencement of business. So plan ahead.

Construction Work Is Not As Easy As It Seems

It is dangerous to think that building or repairing most home projects is an easy task with no further specializations in the field. The truth is that each contractor, sooner or later, chooses to specialize in a particular aspect of his work.

The general areas of specialization are:

a. designing

b. plumbing

c. electrical work

d. engineering work

e. joining work

f. interior designing

You may notice that your home plans stretch over multiple areas. Hence, simply employing one contractor to do the entire job irrespective of his specialization may lead to shoddy work. Rather, it makes sense to have different contractors for doing different works so that you get the best quality. At the end of the day, quality matters.

The worst mistake that you can make is to presume that anybody can do the work of a home improvement contractor. That is not true. Pulling down parts of your home and rebuilding it or adding new parts to it is a specialist’s job.

Do not be penny wise and pound foolish!

Avoid undertaking projects on your own. Search for efficient and reliable contractors. Spread the work among your friends and relatives.

Get them to recommend a contractor they know. You can get good quality work done at very affordable prices. Your house will look good and your wallet will not end up empty. Many people hire specialists to remodel their home, but choose to do the interior designing on their own. All your efforts will go waste if your house looks ugly from the inside.

If you know nothing about interior designing, get a specialist to do it. These specialists will do a good job in making your house look pretty from the inside as well. However, they are expensive and the cost of the consultation, materials and labor can weigh down your budget. Prefer specialists only if you can afford them.

Before tackling a major project, be sure to your abilities and ask whether you can do the job yourself. Unless you are totally certain, do not do it yourself. If you decide to employ home an outside company, make sure you choose licensed contractors only. Irrespective of whether the job is big or small, quick or lengthy, cheap or expensive, never choose an unlicensed contractor.