Your Rights as a Consumer
WHO IS A HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR?
Home improvement contractors are individuals and
companies involved in repairing, renovating,
modernizing, installing, replacing, improving, restoring,
painting, constructing, remodeling, moving, or
demolishing residential or noncommercial properties.
Home improvement contractors include those who work
on residential driveways, sidewalks, swimming pools,
terraces, patios, additions, landscaping, fences, porches,
windows, doors, cabinets, kitchens, bathrooms, garages,
finished basements, basement waterproofing, fire
protection devices, security protection devices, central
heating and air conditioning equipment, water softeners,
heaters and purifiers, solar heating or water systems,
insulation installation, roofing and siding, wall-to-wall
carpeting or attached or inlaid floor coverings, and more.
Home Improvement Contractors
Each year, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs
receives thousands of complaints from consumers who hire
contractors to do costly repair projects and who are less
than satisfied with the results. Consumers complain about
shoddy workmanship, missed deadlines and also about the
contractor’s failure to complete the work or to start the
project at all.
The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act is designed to
protect you from misrepresentation, fraud and deception
in consumer transactions, including contracts for home
improvement work. In addition, the Contractors’
Registration Act requires home improvement contractors
to register with the State.
Home improvement contractors had to initially register with
the Division of Consumer Affairs by December 31, 2005, and
must register annually thereafter, unless specifically exempted.
Home improvement contractors who are not registered with
Consumer Affairs will not be issued municipal construction
permits and will not be permitted to perform home
improvement work in New Jersey.
TIPS FOR CONSUMERS
Contact Consumer Affairs to see if consumers have
filed any complaints against the contractor and to ensure
the contractor is registered.
Do not pay for the entire job up front. The
customary arrangement is one-third in advance,
one-third halfway through the job and one-third upon
completion. Do not pay with cash.
KNOW THE LAW
Obtain a written contract. Contracts for home
improvement projects costing $500 or more must be written
and must include the legal name and business address of the contractor as well as a start date, a completion date,
a description of the work to be done, and the total price.
The contract must also include the contractor’s
Make sure all warranties and guarantees are in writing,
and that the contract states name brands or quality/grades
of materials to be used.
Before you sign a contract, ask for a lien waiver. A lien
waiver is a receipt that states that the workers and
material suppliers will not ask you for money once you
have paid the contractor. Beware if a contractor asks you
to sign a statement that says you will cover the costs of
materials and labor if the contractor does not pay.
Signed contracts may be canceled by a consumer for any
reason before midnight of the third business day after you
receive a copy of the contract. Put the cancellation in
writing and either personally deliver it to the contractor
or send it registered or certified mail, return receipt
requested. A photocopy of your cancellation should also
be sent via regular first-class mail.
Ensure that all applicable construction permits are
obtained from the local municipality. Either the owner
or a contractor acting as the owner’s agent may obtain a
If an electrician or plumber is doing the work, the
municipal permit must be signed and sealed by the New
Jersey licensed electrical contractor or licensed master
If the homeowner has hired an architect to draw up plans,
the licensed architect must sign off on them. Determine
from the municipality what inspections are needed and
when they must be performed.
Final inspections must be completed BEFORE final
payment is made to the contractor. For information on
inspections, see the notice printed in large type on the
back of the construction permit.
Avoid transient home repair contractors. If you hire a
contractor, make sure you get the registration number,
name, street address, phone number, license plate
number and vehicle description. If a problem does occur,
this information will be helpful to law enforcement
agencies. Look for red flags. Be wary if the contractor:
Asks for more than a third of the total payment before work can begin.
Tells you there is no need for a written contract.
(Written contracts are required for projects costing
$500 or more. We recommend you get a written
contract for all projects.)
Only has a P.O. Box as his/her business address.
Does not have a Division of Consumer Affairs
registration number, unless he/she is exempt from
Approaches you (when you haven’t sought him/her out) claiming he/she was just in the neighborhood and can give you a good deal.
Handymen of America addresses some of the contracting problems consumers face with the hope that we will earn your trust to initially do the job right the first time, and for your referrals eventually.
"Best of Luck & Health To Everyone"
Thank You For Your Business,
Joseph Routis, General Mgr.
(Example: State of New Jersey)
Aside from guaranteeing a job that you will be completely satisfied, Handymen of America follows New Jersey's strict Home Improvement Contract law by:
- Maintaining commercial general liability insurance in a minimum amount of $500,000 per occurrence;
- Displaying the state-issued HIC registration number in our place of business, in all advertisements, in all business documents including contracts and on all commercial vehicles;
3. We put home improvement contracts with a purchase price exceeding $500 in writing, and list all terms and conditions of the contract including: price; a description of the work to be done; materials to be used; and the dates or time period within which the work will begin and completed. Have the contract signed by all parties; and
4. Provide a copy of the certificate of commercial general liability insurance with the contract.
Handy Men of America Inc.
Your Rights as a Consumer in New Jersey