After filing eight legal actions involving home improvement contractors, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane shared some consumer tips and recommendations. The contractors were ordered to pay a total of more than $130,400 in consumer restitution and civil penalties, for lack of compliance with Pennsylvania’s Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (HICPA).
The attorney general’s most important recommendation was that consumers check to be sure their contractor is registered. She also recommends homeowners plan out their home improvement project beforehand, so the contractors have enough time to come up with a cost and time estimate, and the homeowner can ensure they’re able to fit this project into their budget.
It is also recommended that consumers do their research when hiring contractors. It is best to get references for the contractor you’re looking at. If you can get a recommendation from friends, family, or coworkers, even better. But if that’s not an option, have the contractor provide you with local references, and give them a call.
Once you do find a contractor, make sure you get everything in writing. Get a written contract with all the necessary details about the project, and about the contractor and his responsibilities. Keep copies of the contract, and change orders, and any proof of payment together in one place.
In the course of a home improvement project, one particular renovation you’ll want to keep in mind is window replacement. Especially if your home is more than 10 years old, and you still have the original windows. Windows can account for 10-25 percent of heat loss in the winter.
New windows will not only keep your home more comfortable and less drafty, but will also reduce your heating and cooling costs. They also make for a quieter, and more secure home, and will increase your “curb appeal.”
Whether a window replacement, or another home improvement project, make sure you do all the necessary research before starting the project. You want to make sure you are working with a good, honest contractor, who will do good work. But no matter how much you trust your contractor, make sure you keep all project-related paperwork on file, because you never know when you might need it down the road.