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Home Improvement

General Information
Problems often arise between home owners and contractors over home repair or improvement.  Those problems might be substandard work, overcharging, or not finishing the job.  If you are not able to satisfactorily resolve the problems with the contractor, contact us.  An investigator will be assigned to determine whether a deceptive practice contributed to the problem.  Please note that if your problem is limited to bad workmanship, your remedy may be to file a complaint in court with the help of your attorney.

If you fail to pay a contractor, the contractor may file a mechanic's lien against your home.  A mechanic's lien is a claim against your property that secures payment for labor, materials or equipment provided for constructing, improving, repairing, or maintaining real property.  The court can order the sale of the property to satisfy liens and costs, subject to your right of redemption.

Contractors are licensed through the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.   The Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing also administers the Lien Recovery Fund.

Tips on Contracting for Home Improvement or Repairs

  • Always get estimates for the job from two or three contractors who are recommended by a friend or family member who is familiar with the contractor’s work.
  • Get references from the contractor and then speak to the references.  Discuss their satisfaction with the contractor’s work, whether the work was done on schedule and within the original contract price.
  • Check to make sure that the contractor has a business license from your city or local jurisdiction if required.
  • Check the Better Business Bureau of Utah at (801)892-6009 or at www.saltlakecity.bbb.org for complaints against the company.
  • Check to make sure the contractor has a contractor’s license and liability insurance.  You can verify a contractor’s license by contacting the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing or by using their Licensee Lookup and Verification System.
  • Make sure the contractor agrees to the following in writing:  the price, a summary of the work to be done and materials to be used, the day the work is to start and the estimated completion date, responsibility for clean up, any guarantees, and if applicable, the financing and credit terms, including payment schedules.
  • Read and understand all papers before you sign anything.
  • Have the contractor agree in advance that full payment is not due until the work is complete.
  • Don’t pay a contractor a large sum of money in advance.  Always get a receipt for any partial payments made.
  • Avoid contractors who:
    • Tell you the repair is urgent, when in reality it is not.
    • Quote or advertise a price, but then say it will cost more because it must be customized or the materials are out of stock.
    • Misrepresent the benefit of the repairs.
    • Misrepresent the financing terms.
    • Only have a P.O. Box and/or answering service.  Do not do business with a contractor that does not give out its business address or telephone number.
    • Say they have leftover materials from another job and can give you a discount.
    • Say that they will use your home as model to give you a special discount.  This "model home" pitch is frequently used by sellers of siding, swimming pools, storm windows, and fencing.
    • Come to your home seeking business, unless you are able to thoroughly check them out by verifying their contractor and business licenses and following the other tips outlined above.
    • Use "scare tactics."  If a contractor tells you that your furnace will blow up, your roof will collapse, etc., get a second opinion.
    • Promise you a discount or commission if you supply names of other potential buyers.
    • Say they are working in the neighborhood and have extra time and materials to offer you a deal.  That rarely turns out to be true.

 

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consumerprotection@utah.gov  |  160 East 300 South   Salt Lake City, Utah 84111  |  Phone: 801-530-6601  |  Toll-Free: 1-800-721-SAFE  |  Fax: 801-530-6001