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Home Improvement Alert: Changes to the law affect consumers & contractors

  • The Office of Attorney General wants consumers and home improvement contractors to be aware of recent amendments to the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (HICPA).  These changes require contractors to update the information provided on their registration application within thirty days after any changes.  These changes would include, among other things:

    • contact information (name, address, telephone number);
    • insurance information (new policies or policy renewals with new expiration dates);
    • shareholder, officer and director information; and
    • background information (civil judgments, criminal convictions and bankruptcies).

    The amendment also provides for “time and materials” provisions in home improvement contracts.  Contractors who perform services on a “time and materials” basis must now include a separate provision in their contracts with consumers. Such “time and materials” provisions must include:

    • an initial cost estimate,
    • a statement that the total cost of the services performed may not exceed 10% above the initial cost estimate,
    • the total potential cost of the services to be performed that includes the initial cost estimate plus 10%, and
    • a statement that such costs may not increase without a written change order.

    These changes will help protect consumers who enter into “time and materials” home improvement contracts, by ensuring that they are able to anticipate the cost of the monetary cost of the home improvement.  It will also ensure the accuracy of information available to consumers through the Attorney General’s contractor database. 

    Following passage by the Legislature, these amendments were signed into law on October 22, 2014. Consumers may check the Attorney General’s contractor registration page or call 888-520-6680 for more information and to determine whether a contractor is registered to do business in Pennsylvania.  Contractors may call the contractor helpline at 717-772-2425 for information.