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Home Improvement

Before signing a home improvement contract, make sure that:
  • All project financing is pre-approved.
  • You have checked with local officials to see if permits are required for the project.
  • The contractor has given you references, which you’ve checked.
  • The contractor has shown you proof of licenses, insurance, and bonding. State law does not require home improvement contractors to be licensed, but many Ohio cities do.
  • You have checked with the local Better Business Bureau at and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to see if complaints are on file against the company.
  • You have received at least three written estimates from three different contractors.
  • You always ask for the manufacturer’s warranty in writing on items such as siding, windows, roofing materials, and heating and cooling equipment.
  • After the job has been completed, you request an itemized receipt for the work performed. Keep old parts, such as furnace parts, in case you later need to prove that a particular item did not need to be replaced.
Don’t enter into a home improvement deal unless it is in writing and is signed by both you and the contractor. The contract should detail all of the necessary information for completing the work, such as:
  • A complete description of the work to be done, timeframe, and the materials to be used.
  • A provision requiring written approval for any changes.
  • A clear statement explaining any contractor guarantee or warranty, and all of the contractor’s oral promises.
  • A provision stating the total cost for the work and the specific terms for payment of materials and labor.
  • A provision that does not require you to pay attorney’s fees, court costs, or damages in case of a dispute or cancellation.
  • A requirement for the contractor to obtain all necessary permits and inspections.
Remember, too, that the contract should not have a requirement for a large down payment or payment-in-full until the project is complete and has been inspected. Make sure the contract does not include a mandatory arbitration clause, in which you waive your right to sue.