New York City and Long Island Improvement Dispute Lawyer

When it comes to one of the biggest investments in an individual's or a family's life, their home, it's important to take care and ensure that all the legal steps in the home remodeling are handled carefully.

Although many people don't know it, the New York legislature has enacted very specific laws and local regulations that regulate home improvements for the protection of the consumer. Unfortunately, many homeowners willingly spend more than half of their net worth renovating their home with no experience or knowledge about the construction business and home improvements laws; also, many homeowners end up hiring unlicensed and uninsured home improvement contractors, who have little or no actual construction experience. Sometimes, homeowners even hand over their hard-earned money to scam artists posing as legitimate home improvement contractors.

Dedicated Representation in Construction-Related Matters

We at the New York and New Jersey Law Offices of Michael P. Berkley, P.C., have been working in home improvement construction law for more than 25 years and are willing to bring our construction law experience to work for you.

By working one-on-one with our clients and comprehensively understanding their project, we're able to ensure that all precautions are taken. We can cover all steps, from scrutinizing licenses, ensuring correct permits and ensuring compliance with necessary procedures to recommending contractors who can work through completion. We're ready to do whatever necessary to ensure success in your project.

To discuss any aspect of your home improvement issue with our Manhattan home improvement dispute attorney in a free initial consultation call 888-512-5875 or email us.

Home Improvement Laws and Contractor Fraud

The goal of home improvement laws is to protect homeowners from scams that the "bad apple" contractors in every locality try to pull on consumers. Too often these contractors are not licensed, do not have insurance and do not have sufficient capital, knowledge or ability to finish a job. While these bad apples may represent themselves as being licensed and insured, most homeowners don't know the appropriate methods to verify that a contractor is actually licensed and insured. Unfortunately, many consumers do not even find out they have hired a "bad apple" until the contractor walks off the job and stops returning phone calls. The homeowner is then forced to start over with a new legitimate contractor.

In a worst-case scenario, this kind of setback can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in the form of additional costs associated with hiring a licensed knowledgeable home improvement contractor who uses actual skilled laborers, the imposition of possible civil and/or criminal penalties on the homeowner, i.e. for working without a permit and court appearances for defending against the safety violations caused by the bad apple contractor.

In order to properly protect yourself from these types of fraudulent contractors, it's critical to partner with a dedicated lawyer who can look into all the proper licenses, insurances and permits necessary for a construction project and who can make sure all the protections afforded by the consumer protection laws are included in your home improvement contract.

Home Improvements, the Specifics:

Unlike commercial construction which is generally governed by the theory of: "Caveat Emptor" or let the "buyer beware," the legislature has enacted specific laws and local regulations from state to state, county to county and town to town, that regulate home improvements for the protection of the consumer. Unfortunately, most consumers are completely unaware of these laws which were designed to protect them. The legislature has enacted these laws to protect homeowners from the few "bad apple" contractors in every locality that prey on numerous consumers (usually all at one time) as if they were defenseless prey, until the "bad apples" are caught.

Unfortunately, many homeowners willingly spend more than half of their net worth on renovating their home while having little or no experience or knowledge about the construction business and without even knowing the existence of these home improvements laws. Since many more "bad apples" are entering the construction field on a daily basis from other industries, due to the lack of employment opportunities in other industries, many homeowners are falling prey to these "bad apples" who generally are not licensed, do not have insurance and do not have sufficient capital, knowledge or ability to finish the job. While these bad apples may represent themselves as being licensed and insured, most homeowners do not even know the methods available to verify that the potential contractor that they have chosen is actually licensed and insured.

Generally, consumers do not even find out they have hired a "bad apple" until the contractor walks off the job and stops returning phone calls. The homeowner is then forced to start over with a new legitimate contractor. The homeowner is then shocked by the cost quoted by the legitimate contractor who must not only obtain the proper permits (which sometimes requires the added costs of hiring an architect to prepare drawings to be submitted for a permit), but the new contractor must correct the defective work oftentimes done by the bad apple, before finishing the project. Additionally, the legitimate contractor's cost will be higher than the quote from the "bad apple" because a legitimate contractor will have to pay the additional costs associated with the hiring of actual skilled labor and proper general liability and workers' compensation insurance. Many consumers do not even realize that the "bad apple's" quote is so low because the "bad apple" failed to inform the consumer that they need to apply for a permit before starting the work. Unfortunately, the consumer does not find out until they have to appear in Court or before the Environmental Control Board to face charges of allowing work to take place in their home without a proper permit. The "bad apple" then exposes the home owner to civil and criminal penalties and a few Court appearances for working without a permit.

Sometimes, if the home improvement includes an addition of living space, the homeowner will be forced to rip down a portion of the completed work to allow the proper electrical and plumbing inspections to take place before a Certificate of Occupancy is issued by the local municipality. This, of course, will add further delays and costs to the project.