Hiring a Contractor? Beware of These Red Flags in NJ
🚩 Look for warning signs before signing a contract.
📃 You can get out of a contract within a few days.
🏠 A final inspection should occur before final payment is made.
In 2022 alone, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs received 2,310 complaints related to home improvement.
From doing shoddy work to taking a deposit and never showing up to actually perform the job, thousands of contractor-related complaints are filed with New Jersey on a yearly basis.
But some of these issues could have been avoided if the customers had followed a few steps before moving ahead with their projects.
Contractor warnings signs
There are some red flags to look out for when you're attempting to hire a contractor. The Division of Consumer Affairs says you should be wary if the contractor:
- asks for more than a third of the total tab before work can begin.
- demands cash.
- does not have a Consumer Affairs registration number.
- only has a P.O. Box as a business address.
- tells you there is no need for a written contract.
What you should know when hiring a contractor
Final payment should not be made until the work is done. In fact, the law prohibits registered contractors from demanding the final payment before the job is complete.
Home improvement contractors must register with the state. Those who are not registered won't be issued municipal permits and are not permitted to perform work in New Jersey.
The registration requirements do not apply to individuals who are performing work on their own home, or the home of a family member, or those performing work in a home belonging to a nonprofit/charity.
Contracts are required for home improvement projects of more than $500. That contract must include the price of the job, the name and business address of the contractor, and their registration number. According to the Division of Consumer Affairs, the contract should also mention a start date and completion date, and a description of the work to be done.
Before signing that contract, you can protect yourself even further by asking for a lien waiver. Essentially, the waiver is confirmation that you won't be asked by workers or material suppliers to put out money that wasn't requested by your contractor.
Even after you receive and sign the contract, you have the right to cancel it for any reason for up to three business days, the Division notes.
New Jersey officials also want residents to know that final inspections of projects should be completed before the final payment is made.
How to file a home repair complaint
Residents are advised to first give the contractor a chance to resolve the matter directly.
If that doesn't work, one can:
- File a complaint using this form, or
- Call Consumer Affair a 800-242-5846 to request a complaint form, or
- Call the local consumer affairs office for a complaint form