Helpful Home Improvement Information
Home improvement fraud occurs when:
- A contractor intentionally provides false or misleading information to convince a consumer to enter into an agreement for home improvements.
- A contractor receives payment and fails to provide the services or materials.
- A contractor damages a person’s property in order to solicit an agreement for services or materials.
- A contractor alters a contract or other documents without the consent of the consumer.
- A contractor publishes false or deceptive advertisements.
- A contractor misrepresents material as special order material or misrepresents the cost of special order material.
- A contractor represents himself or herself as an employee of a governmental unit or public utility.
- The contract must be in writing and include the contractor’s registration number.
- The entire agreement between the contractor and the consumer including the date of the transaction.
- The name, telephone number, and address of the contractor and subcontractors.
- A description of the work to be performed including the approximate starting and completion dates of the project.
- The total sales price due under contract.
- The amount of any down payment plus any amount paid in advance for the purchase of special order materials.
- The amount of liability insurance coverage maintained by the contractor.
- The toll-free number maintained by the Bureau of Consumer Protection.
- A notice of the consumer’s right to rescind the contract.
- A home improvement contractor must provide you with a copy of the complete contract free of charge.
- You have the right to rescind your home improvement contract without penalty within three business days of the signing date, except as provided under law for emergency situations.
- A home improvement contract is not enforceable against a consumer if it does not include all of the information required by law.
- A contractor may not demand or receive any payment for a home improvement before the home improvement contract is signed.
- All contractors must display their official registration number on all contracts, estimates, proposals, and advertisements distributed within the Commonwealth.
- To verify a contractor’s registration number, click here or call toll free 1-888-520-6680.
Contractors can include a description of the services they provide.
Contractors provide proof of insurance coverage at the time they apply for registration. You should check with the contractor to obtain verification that the insurance coverage is current at the time your contract is signed and the services are performed.
Contractors are required by law to provide certain background information in their application for registration. They must state whether they have been convicted of a criminal offense related to the following: (1) home improvement transactions, (2) fraud, (3) theft, (4) a crime of deception or (5) a crime involving fraudulent business practices. The applicant and its principals must also state whether they have ever filed a petition in bankruptcy. A further statement is required if the applicant has had a final civil judgment, related to a home improvement transaction, entered against it or against businesses in which the applicant held an interest. HICPA does not require disclosure of other types of crimes or civil actions.
Always remember that registration under HICPA is not an endorsement, recommendation or approval by the Office of Attorney General of the contractor’s competency or skill.