Minchella Law Blog

Does My Home Improvement Contract Have to Perfectly Comply With the Law?

YES! Well, Almost Yes.

You’re safer if you think yes, your contract must strictly comply with certain parts of Connecticut’s Home Improvement Act.  You’re probably like, yea I knew that.  It must have the start and completion date and must provide a notice of cancellation in duplicate (among other things!).  That’s easy you say because you can just copy the language from the statute itself.

The law NEVER MAKES THINGS EASY.  Trust me, you’ll want to read on.

How many of you think that the words in the notice of cancellation don’t have to be exact?

How many of you think if you have an AIA contract that, well, it’s got to have the required language right? I mean an AIA contract is like a real contract isn’t it?

Wrong.

If You Think You Should Sue for That $15,000….

In a case where a contractor sued a homeowner for non-payment, Connecticut’s Appellate Court (basically the second most important court in the state) a few months ago held that because that contractor’s agreement (which was an AIA contract) materially deviated from Connecticut’s Home Improvement Act requirements, the contractor couldn’t recover ANY MONEY.

Same old story, one that you’re probably like “that’ll never happen to me.”

For those Tim Allen fans, we can hear him grunting:  “Contractor does work. Gets paid. Does more work, doesn’t get paid. Lawsuit.”

But homeowners almost always sue back due to claims of shoddy workmanship.

In that recent case the contractor believed he was owed $15,300.  The homeowners sued because they believed they overpaid the contractor about $21,000. The entire contract was worth $86,300.

Contractor lost, and homeowner won, all because the contractor thought the language below complied with the notice of CANCELLATION rights.

Right of Rescission—

‘Under the law you have three business days to rescind this contract and receive a full refund of any money you have on deposit with the contractor.

If you elect to refuse this right, and effectively speed up your job start by three business days, then please sign below, attesting to the fact that you wish to forego your three day right of rescission.

Homeowner Date

It didn’t.  It seems to come close doesn’t it?  But the word “rescission” has a different legal meaning than “cancellation.”  That’s what it all came down to.

And of course, if your contract fails to comply with the requirements, it’s an automatic violation of Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practice – a place you don’t want your business it be.  You can read about that statute here and here.

Know what you need to do to protect your business!

Call the Law Junkies, you’ll feel better!

 

Anthony R. Minchella

Anthony R. Minchella

Tony represents Fortune 50 financial services companies, retail giants, and small and large specialty products companies in employment litigation, trade secret and non-competition litigation, and unfair trade practice issues. When acting as local counsel, Tony, an adjunct professor of law on Connecticut Civil Procedure at Quinnipiac Law School, helps lead counsel navigate the nuances of Connecticut state and federal court practice. Tony graduated magna cum laude from Quinnipiac University School of Law. He passed the New Jersey, New York and Connecticut bar exams and then moved on to careers with large and small firms which led to his boutique litigation practice.
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