Improving Home Improvement: The Home Construction Contracts Act
By Allison A. Economy, Esq.
As temperatures drop and winter closes in, many Maine homeowners have yet to finish (or even start) those “honey do lists” that looked so manageable last spring. As a result, this time of year leaves us clamoring for handymen and contractors to help complete outdoor tasks before the snow begins to fall. For homeowners and handymen alike, it is important to be familiar with Maine’s Home Construction Contracts Act (the “Act”), which requires certain specific information be included in any home construction contract for more than $3,000 in materials or labor.
Pursuant to the Act, the contract must be in writing, it must be signed by both the contractor and the homeowner, and both parties must receive a copy of the executed contract prior to the start of any work. In addition, the contract must contain at least the following parts:
The name, address and phone number of both the contractor and the homeowner.
The location of the property upon which the construction work is to be done.
The estimated date of commencement of work and the estimated date of substantial completion.
The total contract price.
The method of payment, with the initial down payment being limited to no more than 1/3 of the total contract price.
A general description of the work and materials to be used.
A specific statement regarding warranty.
An alternative dispute resolution provision in addition to the option of a small claims action.
A specific statement regarding change orders.
A statement regarding energy standards.
A copy of the Attorney General’s consumer protection information on home construction and repair
A statement advising the homeowner to visit the Attorney General’s website for more information.
Additional statements must be included if the contract pertains to door-to-door sales or the installation of insulation.
A contractor’s failure to include the foregoing in a home construction contract can result in a violation of the Uniform Trade Practices Act, subjecting the contractor to a fine of up to $1,000 and requiring the contractor to pay the homeowner’s legal fees. So if it will cost more than $3,000 for a contractor to complete that “honey do list,” make sure to have a fully executed contract in place before the work commences.