Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

May 22, 2013

Hiring a contractor? Check the state registry and do your homework!

HARRISBURG - Spring is the season for home improvements. Most Pennsylvania contractors do very good work. Unfortunately, some do not. Last year, the Office of Attorney General fielded 4,900 complaints from people who were not satisfied with the work they had done on their homes and businesses.
 
Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane today reminded consumers that they should always check to ensure that the home improvement contractor is registered in Pennsylvania by visiting www.attorneygeneral.gov, or by calling 1-888-520-6680.

The Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (HICPA) requires all contractors who perform $5,000 or more in home improvements in a year to register with the Office of Attorney General. Contractors must re-register every two years.

HICPA was created to protect consumers who hire home improvement contractors and to authorize criminal penalties for home improvement fraud.

Last year, the Office of Attorney General filed many legal actions against "no show" contractors and others doing substandard work. Consumers got refunds, and substandard contractors paid fees and civil penalties.

Consumers should go to the Attorney General's website to see if a contractor is registered. The website includes the following for registered contractors:

  • Contact and insurance information;
  • A description of the company;
  • Information on any prior home improvement businesses;
  • Names of anyone with an interest in the business;
  • Any contractor licenses;
  • Bankruptcy, criminal plea and conviction history for home improvement fraud, and;
  • A map showing where the business is located.

Contractors must register under the law, but take note: their appearance in the registry does not mean the OAG endorses their work. "Registration" is not a license or a seal of approval. It is not meant to imply that they have met any standards for quality of work.

That's why Attorney General Kane recommends that you "go the extra mile" when evaluating a contractor. In addition to the Attorney General's website, you should carefully check all references, contact the Better Business Bureau, and get more than one estimate before committing to anything.

To report an unregistered contractor, call the Home Improvement Registration Hotline at 1-888-520-6680. Complaints about unregistered contractors may also be emailed to the Attorney General's Office at HIC@attorneygeneral.gov.

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