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Home Improvement Contractors

HIRING A HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR?
QUICK TIPS FOR HOMEOWNERS

Before You Hire…

  • Check if your home improvement contractor is licensed by calling 311 or using DCA's Instant License Check at www.nyc.gov/consumers. Persons soliciting or performing home improvement work in New York City costing more than $200 must be licensed by DCA:
    • The person who negotiates the contract is the "salesperson." Make sure the salesperson is licensed.
    • The person who performs work on your home is the "contractor." Make sure the home improvement contractor is licensed.
    • If the person performs both duties, check for both required licenses.
  • Get written estimates from at least three separate home improvement businesses.
  • Get reliable references. Call 311 for complaint histories with DCA. Also check with consumer protection agencies in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, and other neighboring counties for complaint histories. Call past customers of your potential contractor. Some questions to ask:
    • Did the contractor complete the job on time?
    • Were there any additional costs during the project?
    • Do you have photographs from before and after renovations for review?

Contract Time…

  • Make sure every detail of the project is written in the contract, including specific work to be done, type of materials to be used and itemized costs, warranties, cleanup responsibilities, and payment schedules based on work progress. To review a sample contract, visit www.nyc.gov/consumers. Reminder: You have the right to cancel the contract within three days of signing it.
  • Do not pay more than 25% of the total amount upfront (up to a maximum $15,000) and never pay cash.
  • It is illegal for contractors or salespeople to arrange or offer to arrange home improvement loans for you. If they attempt to do this, file a complaint immediately with DCA via 311 or online at www.nyc.gov/consumers

After You Hire…

  • Monitor the progress of all work and make sure that any extra work and/or change in supplies are indicated in writing along with the additional costs.
  • When submitting payments, never pay in cash and keep track of all payments.
  • Do not submit final payment until all work is carefully inspected and meets your approval.

BONUS: Visit www.nyc.gov/greenyc for "green" tips for your home.