NOTICE: To protect the health and safety of the public and our employees, DCP employees will no longer be at 450 Columbus Blvd. Please do not send mail. We recommend using our online services, or sending an email to the appropriate division/person instead. Phone lines will have limited support, and voicemails will be returned when possible. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Press Releases

05/22/2015

Department of Consumer Protection Suggests “Homework” for Holiday Weekend

HARTFORD, May 22 – Going into this long Memorial Day weekend -- a perfect time to start home improvement projects -- the  Department of Consumer Protection reminds property owners to do their homework when planning a home repair job, an addition, or other home improvement, and is issuing a checklist of suggestions for consumers to review.

“Your home is likely to be your most valuable possession, and it needs proper care and maintenance in order to keep its charm and value,” Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris said today.  “Don’t risk your money and the condition of your home by retaining a contractor who may not do a good job for you . Take the time to find a skilled, above-board contractor to do the job right, and remember that any home improvement contractor who doesn’t have a current HIC registration with the Department of Consumer Protection, is breaking the law and probably isn’t worthy of your time, money and trust.”

In 2013-2014 more than 1,200 consumers filed a written complaint with the Department about the work that was done – or not done – on their homes.  These complaints involve issues such as improper contracts, damage to home or property, unfinished work, shoddy materials, or non-return of a deposit. To avoid most problems, here is a checklist to complete when hiring a contractor and starting a home improvement job.

  • Decide exactly what you want done, and establish your budget for the job.
  • Speak to friends and family for names of contractors they would recommend based on their experience with them. Make sure the work done is similar to the work you want done. If needed, search out other contractors. The Better Business Bureau and your town building official may also be good sources of free information.
  • Verify that each contractor on your list of possible choices is actively registered with the Department of Consumer Protection as a home improvement contractor at https://www.elicense.ct.gov/. Verify online or call 860-713-6110 or toll-free at 1-800-842-2649.
  • Check the litigation history of all prospective contractors online by visiting the Connecticut Judicial website and doing case look-ups under Civil, Criminal and Small Claims court records. Select “party name search” from the left menu and type in the contractor’s last and first name in the boxes provided. Check out their record, but also realize that people are sued even though they may not deserve it. If possible, you should dig deeper.
  • Meet with at least three registered contractors with a trouble-free work history. Show them the area where work is needed, and describe the job. Ask about their current workloads. Can they start and finish on time?
  • Drive by or view photos of some of the contractors’ current and recently finished jobs. Ask for phone numbers of recent clients as references, and contact them.
  • Ask to see their Connecticut Home Improvement registration card and check the date to ensure the registration is still valid.
  • Ask for a written estimate or bid . Get three written bids and compare them. When considering bids, in addition to price, ask yourself: Which contractor took the time to really listen? Which took notes and seemed interested in the work? With which candidates do you feel most comfortable?
  • Contact your chosen contractor and ask for evidence of his or her workers’ compensation and liability insurance policies. Contractors should carry their own liability insurance and produce an insurance certificate as proof. Verify that the policies are active. Call the insurance agency on the certificate to confirm coverage. Obtain lien waivers from all subcontractors working on your project from the General Contractor.
  • Set up a payment schedule that corresponds to the progress of the work. Don’t pay a lot up front!  Do not pay ahead of schedule and never pay the balance until the contract has been completed and your punch list has been fully addressed.  Once a dishonest contractor gets ahead of you on payments, there may be little reason for them to return.
  • Specify in the contract whether you or the contractor will obtain the building permits from your town, if needed. Ultimately, they are the homeowner’s responsibility.
  • Get a detailed, written contract. Your name and the contractor’s name and street address should be on the contract, as well as the contractor’s registration number. Check that all terms and conditions, materials, start date, end date, contract date, costs, and payment dates, are specifically included.
  • Sign, date and keep a copy of the complete contract.
  • You have three days to cancel the home improvement contract after you sign it. The 3-day cancellation notice should be part of your written contract.)

Call the Department of Consumer Protection at (860) 713-6110, by e-mail at dcp.frauds@ct.gov or visit our website at www.ct.gov/dcp if you have questions or concerns.

“The Home Improvement Guaranty Fund can take some of the sting out of a bad home improvement job by reimbursing homeowners up to $15,000 per contract on a court judgment the homeowner has obtained that cannot be collected from the liable contractor. But, to access the Fund, the work must have been done by a state-registered home improvement contractor,” Harris said. “This extra protection is worth the time spent on making sure your contractor has a current, valid home improvement registration in Connecticut.”

-end-

Media Contact: Claudette Carveth

Claudette.carveth@ct.gov

860-713-6022

 
Twitter: DCP on Twitter
Facebook: DCP on Facebook