Prevent Home Improvement Nightmares
Your home is one of the biggest investments in your life. When making structural changes and remodeling, it’s important to be sure that all the legal steps in the home remodeling are handled carefully and correctly.
Special New York Improvement Regulations
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. There is a great risk for homeowners who hire 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 since 1990. In our nearly three decades of focused legal work we have a broad range of experience that we bring to every case.
By working one-on-one with you and comprehensively understanding your project, we’re able to ensure that all precautions are taken. We can cover all steps:
- We scrutinize licenses for legitimacy and accuracy
- Ensure correct permits are pulled
- Ensure compliance with necessary procedures
- Recommend proven contractors who can work through completion
- We’re ready to do whatever necessary to ensure success in your project
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.
The Cost Of A “Bad Apple” 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. An experienced legal “middleman” will look out for your interests and protect your investment. Do no rely on your contractor to protect you.
Home Improvement Laws: 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 experience or knowledge about the construction business and without even knowing the existence of these home improvements laws.
Be Wary Of Disreputable Remodelers
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
- Do not have sufficient capital, knowledge or ability to finish the job.
Bad apple contractors may represent themselves as being licensed and insured. But most homeowners do not even know how to verify that a contractor is actually licensed and insured.
Generally, consumers do not discover 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 homeowner 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.
Protect Your Interests First
It’s always wise for homeowners to protect their interests for any substantial home improvement project before work begins by having a comprehensive contract drafted and/or reviewed by a knowledgeable construction law attorney.