With the significant number of repairs needed to repair the damage from one of the worst winters, many people will be looking for contractors to do their homework. But who should you use? Will hiring a registered contractor under the recently approved Pennsylvania Consumer Protection Act allow you to proceed with confidence?
Pennsylvania is entering its first full year with this new law requiring contractors to carry out any kind of domestic renovation work to register with the Office of Consumer Protection, which is part of the Attorney General’s Office. However, the question is to what extent does this new law protect you as a consumer? Unfortunately, many homeowners thought that registration meant that the state had agreed with these contractors and the quality of the work they were doing. Since then, many homeowners have discovered that this is not the case.
Although the law is the first step in the right direction, consumers should not be allowed to give them a false sense of security. Experienced consumers still need to do their homework to protect themselves. A quick overview of what the law does and what not to do will tell you why.
For years, it has been said that “all you need to work in Pennsylvania is a hammer and a small truck.” This is perhaps one of the reasons why most of Pennsylvania is not satisfied with the quality of work done at home. A national survey revealed that fifty percent of people do not recommend a contractor to another person. In Pennsylvania, chances are worse, because so far, no registration, licensing or certification process has been implemented.
Many countries have licensing and certification requirements for entrepreneurs. Most require the contractor to undergo a written or physical test. Some need a contract with the state. Until last July, Pennsylvania was one of the few to ask for nothing. At least now, Pennsylvania requires the contractor to be registered. What does registration mean, who needs registration and how does the registration system guarantee accountability? Can the registered contractor be trusted to treat you, your home, and your property with respect and care you expect and deserve?
Under the new law, all improvements to your home and property must be made by a registered contractor. With the exception of green spaces, anyone earning more than $5,000 a year for construction, installation or work with non-decorative structures must be registered in the state.
For state registration, the contractor must provide your name, address, telephone number, date of birth, driver’s license number, address, and job name. It should also give the names of all your business partners. The State also requests a statement on whether the person in question has been convicted of an offense related to home improvement, theft or fraud.
The contractor’s registration costs $50 per biennium. In return, the state provides a unique identification number to the contractor. This number should appear on all written documents and ads with the company name. More importantly, the number should look on all contracts printed by the company. If you think of a contractor who does not have your number, it is entirely possible that he is not registered in Pennsylvania.
For the contractor to prove his reliability, he must indicate whether he has declared bankruptcy or has decided to file a complaint to improve his housing in the last ten years and whether a national company has been suspended or prevented from participating.
Donna Harvey works for Pennsylvania property agents. She helped various clients to buy the right homes for sale PA. Other than her work she is a content writer and a very active on real estate forums.