Home Improvement Reminders from the Department of Consumer Protection
HARTFORD, May 23 – With the first long weekend of the season upon us, the Department of Consumer Protection has reminders for anyone planning to hire a home improvement contractor in the next few months.
“Remember that home improvement contractors in Connecticut need to be registered, and that’s a protection for you and your property,” Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein said. “This registration doesn’t guarantee that mistakes can’t happen, but it does give you some financial protection that’s not available if the contractor isn’t registered.”
Whether you are making improvements or repairs, the Department urges consumers to take time to ask friends and neighbors for referrals, call references, and verify that the person they hire is actively registered to work in Connecticut as a home improvement contractor. This includes carpenters, roofers, remodeling contractors, driveway pavers, painters and anyone who installs fences, siding, insulation, windows and masonry, for example.
Each registered contractor is given a wallet card with their Connecticut registration number and expiration date – ask your contractor to show you this card. You can also visit the Department of Consumer Protection’s website at www.ct.gov/dcp and go to “Verify a License.” You may call the Department at (860) 713-6110.
Before signing a contract, ask your potential contractors about their existing workload. Can they start and finish on time? If you’re on a deadline, you should both be aware of each other’s expectations.
Find out if the contractor plans to hire skilled trades workers, such as electricians or plumbers, and specify in writing that that those workers have the appropriate Connecticut occupational license. You want anyone working on your home fully qualified to do the job! You can verify the workers’ licenses on the Department of Consumer Protection’s website or by telephone. If you have concerns about the use of subcontractors, their qualifications and experience, be sure to ask and specify the details in writing.
Confirm with your contractor whether he or you will obtain the building permits, if needed. Ultimately, they are your responsibility.
Verify with the contractor that he has the appropriate level of workers’ compensation and liability insurance.
Set up a written payment schedule that allows you to pay about 1/3 up front, 1/3 when work is halfway done, and the final third when the work is completed to your satisfaction. Never pay in cash. Get dated receipts.
Get a signed, detailed, and fully executed contract before any work begins. Keep a copy. By law, all home improvement contracts must be in writing, include all details of the job, and bear the contractor's name and registration number. The contract must also include the start date, end date, work to be done, materials to be used, and price. The contract must also give you three (3) days to cancel. This is your “cooling off” period, a time to review the contract, especially if you feel you signed it under pressure.
The Home Improvement Guaranty fund is available through the Department of Consumer Protection if you suffer damages and your registered home improvement contractor is unable to make you whole. After obtaining a court judgment, you may qualify for restitution up to $15,000 per contract.
More information about hiring and working with a home improvement contractor is here . If you have home improvement questions or concerns, contact the Department of Consumer Protection at 860-713-6110, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.