Home Improvement & Repair Contracts
Many people hire contractors to perform repairs or make alterations to their homes. You can avoid problems and protect yourself by taking a few simple steps.
Before hiring a specific person or company, get quotes from different contractors. Ask how long the job will take and check the contractor’s references. Once you have narrowed down the possibilities, you should ask for proof of insurance. Also, verify that the contractor has the appropriate license to perform the work. Certain counties and New York City require a contractor to have a license to do work there. If a contractor does not provide the above information, do not hire them.
Before a contractor performs any work or gets paid, get a signed, written contract. A written contract helps avoid problems later. It should include certain key terms, like deadlines and payment schedules. You have the right to cancel a home improvement contract for any reason up to three days after signing it.
Sometimes, problems occur during the course of the project even if you have taken all the steps above. If a dispute arises, you should seek legal help to resolve the matter immediately. You can file a lawsuit against the contractor to recover damages. You may also be able to recover civil penalties and attorney’s fees. If you do not act immediately, the contractor may file a mechanic’s lien against your property. This can cause even more problems for you.
You can also contact the government if you have a dispute with your contractor. You can call the NYS Attorney General’s Office or the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs. The Better Business Bureau is another resource for resolving disputes.
Legal Editors: Mark Grossman, Esq. and Edward E. Klein, Esq., May 2018
Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.