As the days get cooler many of us start thinking about sprucing up our homes to make the long winter’s confinement a little more bearable. Maybe it’s replacing those kitchen cabinets you put in before the Thanksgiving of 1972. Or tackling the bathroom that you had to refurbish after the Giants’ Super Bowl victory in 1986. Whatever the reason, you’re ready for a change, so you call in a contractor.
Before you start picking out paint colors and pondering tiles, pay attention to something far more important to your ultimate happiness with the job: the home improvement contract you’re about to sign with the person who’s going to do the work.
Connecticut’s Home Improvement Contractors statute defines your relationship with a contractor and outlines your rights if something goes wrong. Among the things that Section 20-429 of the Home Improvement Contractors statute requires is that you sign a contract that identifies the contractor; summarizes the detail and duration of the work and notifies you of your cancellation rights. The home improvement contract may not be enforceable against you if it fails to meet the nine requirements of this act.
Before you begin working with a contractor do the following:
- Check to make sure you’re dealing with a registered home improvement contractor. You can verify a contractor’s license with an on-line search of the list maintained by Connecticut’s Office of Consumer Protection
- Make sure there aren’t any unresolved complaints against your contractor. Connecticut’s Office of Consumer Protection has a Complaint Center where you’ll find these.
- Get a contract that meets the statutory requirements.
- Remember you have a three-day period in which you can cancel the contract. You have until midnight of third business day after the date of the transaction.
- Make sure you only pay as the job progresses. Do not pay the full amount upfront.
- Understand that in order to be enforceable against you the contract should comply with the requirements of the statute.
- Be aware of the State’s Home Improvement Guarantee Fund, which may provide assistance if you get a judgment against the contractor that you can’t collect.
Settling in for a long winter in your newly updated home will be a lot more pleasant if the work is done on time and meets your expectations. The right contractor with the right contract will make the whole experience a lot more satisfying when all is said and done.