Protections Afforded Under The Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act
Planning a home improvement or repair project can be stressful for the homeowner. While home do-it-yourself projects are popular and can save a homeowner some money, there are some projects that require a professional contractor. However, not all contractors work to keep the promises they make in order to secure the contract. The frustrated homeowner may be at a loss when it comes to getting the contractor to fulfill his terms of the contract.
Home improvement contracts between homeowners and contractors are governed by Pennsylvania’s Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act. Under this law, homeowners are protected in several ways when contracting with home improvement contractors who do 5,000 dollars or more of home improvement work a year.
Homeowners who enter into a contract with a covered contractor have an initial period of three days after the contract is signed to cancel the contract without a penalty. This provision protects homeowners who may have selected a particular contractor because of high pressure tactics.
Another important protection for a homeowner is the ability to request a refund from the contractor if the contractor does not start the project on an agreed upon start date or within 45 days of the contract start date. After the 45 days have passed, the homeowner can write to the contractor requesting a refund, and the contractor is required to give the refund within 10 days. This can be helpful to consumers who need work completed quickly, and who cannot afford to hire someone else to start work without first getting a refund back from a non-performing contractor.
Homeowners should also be aware that the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act expands consumer protections under the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. Because of these protections, any material changes to a contract are required to be in writing. The contractor cannot just make unilateral changes and then orally inform the homeowner.
It is important to note that the protections of the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act are not absolute, especially when the contractor has already provided extensive services. If a contractor begins work on the project, and then due to a disagreement the contractor cannot continue the project, the homeowner may still be required to pay the contractor for the work completed, including the cost of materials.
This would be the case even where the contract between the homeowner and the contractor does not strictly comply with the requirements of the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act. In this situation, the contractor’s right to receive compensation would not be based in a breach of an express contract and would instead be based on a legal theory known as quantum meruit.
Contact an Experienced Consumer Protection Lawyer
If you are dealing with a difficult contractor who either engaged in fraud or misrepresentation to get you to sign the contract, or is not delivering on the terms of your contract, you may be able to receive compensation under Pennsylvania law. For more information on how to seek relief, you should contact a consumer protection lawyer in Philadelphia with experience handling home contractor fraud cases. Contact the Philadelphia law firm of Louis S. Schwartz, Attorneys at Law for a consultation.