By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor

It’s Springtime!

The weather is slowly but surely trying to make its decision to brighten up and consistently give us some warmer, sunny days.   When that happens, it gives us a ‘green light’ to go outside and take a look around at what may need done prior to summer’s hot, hot temperatures!   Furthermore, we are sparked to assess our interiors as well and perhaps make a to-do list.

It may be a maintenance issue that needs attention or perhaps a little renovating that tops your list … OR maybe it is the addition of something totally new that you have always dreamed of.  If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you can start measuring and preparing a list of items you’ll need to complete your project.  However, if you are not a talented “tool man”, you may need to enlist the help of a professional contractor.  If you fall into that category, West Virginia’s Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has a strong suggestion for you – – use a contract!

According to Morrisey, some of the most common consumer complaints received at his office revolve around a lack of home improvement licensing and work completion.  Therefore, he urges consumers to consider a written contract a necessity before hiring someone to tackling spring home improvement projects.

“Home improvement season is a time when those looking to save a buck could be susceptible to fraud,” he cautioned.  “Signing a contract is perhaps the best safeguard to protect yourself from getting ripped off.  It sets guidelines and expectations for the work so that no one is treated unfairly.”

State law requires a written contract when hiring a contractor for home improvement projects costing $250 or more.  In addition to a contract, jobs of $2,500 or more also require the contractor to be licensed by the state Contractor Licensing Board.

Drafting a contract can be easy and does not necessarily require an attorney.  Such agreements should be signed and dated by both the consumer and the contractor before any work begins.  Each party should retain a copy of that contract.

Here are some things to remember when drafting and signing such a document.  The contract should include:

  • The contractor’s name, address and telephone number.
  • A description in “plain language” of all goods to be purchased and services to be performed.
  • The contract price with all credit or financing information.
  • An approximate completion date.
  • The consumer’s right to cancel the contract within three business days.

For more information, read “Measuring Up: A Consumer’s Guide to Hiring Contractors for Home Repairs” at http://bit.ly/2pmjiUD.

If you have questions or knowledge of a potential home repair scam, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239, or visit the office online at http://www.wvago.gov.