Spring Home Improvement Things to Remember

With spring 2009 here many homeowners turn to the thoughts of home improvement & repairs. That gutter that worked loose over the winter, the storm doors or windows that have seen better days or even thoughts of how great a deck would be to over look the yard come to mind.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has some great info on protections & guidelines for consumers in dealing with contractors & home improvement contracts. Click on the title of this article for a direct link.

Here's an excerpt from the section "Before You Sign a Contract"

Before You Sign a Contract

Always ask for a detailed written contract, even for small projects. It will protect you and help ensure that you and the contractor understand the scope of the job and the price. State law requires that home improvement contracts over $1,000 be in writing. If contractors violate this provision, their registration may be suspended or revoked, and they can be fined or face criminal prosecution. Consumer Affairs can provide you with a sample contract.

Be sure the contract contains:
the identification of the contractor, including the contractor’s registration number;

total price of the work;

the payment schedule;

a provision for changes or "extras";

a detailed list of specifications/materials;

start and completion dates;

a copy of the contractor’s insurance;

a permit notice warning you that if you secure your own building permit or deal with unregistered contractors, you will not be eligible for the Guaranty Fund;

a 3-day cancellation notice, informing you of your right to cancel your contract if you signed the agreement in your home, or at a place other than at the contractor’s office or business; and
other details particular to your job.

Be sure the contractor obtains the building permit. If you apply for the permit, you may not be eligible for compensation from the Guaranty Fund.

By law, the contractor cannot collect more than one-third of the cost of the contract in advance, unless special order materials are needed.

If you are financing your home improvements, be aware that contractors are not allowed to lend you the money, or act in association with any lending institution if the loan is secured by a mortgage on your home. Similarly, a contractor cannot offer you financing with a specific lender if your home is used as collateral. You have the right to choose any lender who is willing to negotiate your loan. Get a cost estimate from the contractor for the work that needs to be done, and then shop around for the best financing option.

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