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Cascade: No. 72, Fall 2009

Pennsylvania Law Covers Home Improvement Contractors

Pennsylvania's Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act, which became effective July 1, requires all contractors who perform $5,000 or more in home improvements in a year to register with the Pennsylvania attorney general's office. Complaints involving home improvement or repair projects are one of the top subjects of calls to the attorney general's Bureau of Consumer Protection. In 2008, the attorney general's office received more than 2,100 consumer complaints involving home improvements and filed legal actions seeking more than $2 million in refunds, fines, and civil penalties against "no show" contractors and others doing substandard work.

Attorney General Tom Corbett said that the act is intended to protect consumers from unscrupulous contractors, provide new protection for consumers who hire home improvement contractors, and authorize criminal penalties for home improvement fraud.

"This legislation gives us new tools to identify and prosecute problem contractors," Corbett said. "It will also help consumers avoid frustrating and potentially expensive problems in the future."

Almost 32,000 Pennsylvania contractors have registered since registration started on March 23. All registered contractors are required to have at least $50,000 of personal injury liability coverage and $50,000 of property damage coverage.

Consumers can check the registration status of any home improvement contractor in Pennsylvania at www.attorneygeneral.gov External Link or 1-888-520-6680. Consumers can also contact the Better Business Bureau, check contractors' references, and obtain multiple estimates.