Monday, April 14, 2014

Changes for New Jersey Contractors


The New Jersey legislature has been busy since Super Storm Sandy put damage repair on page one of the news. Legislators in Trenton have introduced over a dozen bills designed to change the way New Jersey contractors make a living. Don’t expect any of these to make your life easier. Here are highlights:

S.B. 1769 would impose penalties for failure to complete work under a home improvement contract. Violation of the new law would require a refund of all money collected or treble damages plus legal fees. The bill would also require any applicant for registration as a home improvement contractor to disclose affiliated individuals who have a substantial interest in any other home improvement company. The bill is intended to end the common practice of collapsing a company that gets into legal trouble and then starting a new company. Introduced April 13, 2014.

S.B. 949 and A.B. 1546 would require that dry-out contractors register with the Division of Consumer Affairs, have liability insurance and use written contracts that comply with the Home Improvement Practices Act. Introduced January 27, 2014.

A.B. 4394 would require that contractors doing home elevation work meet experience requirements, register with the Division of Consumer Affairs as home elevation contractors, carry liability insurance and use written contracts that comply with the Home Improvement Practices Act. Last amended January 9, 2014.

A.B. 894 would allow an owner to waive the 3-day right to cancel a contract for emergency home improvement work. The contract has to include a specific waiver form and has to include a written estimate of the total cost and fees. If costs exceed the estimate, a written change order is required. Introduced January 9, 2014.

A.B. 1236 modifies warranties required under the New Jersey’s New Home Warranty program and requires arbitration of warranty issues by a state agency. Introduced January 16, 2014.

S.B. 1866 would allow both contractors and owners on home improvement jobs to sue in the county where the property is located. Current law requires that suit be brought in the county where a defendant resides. Introduced March 24, 2014.

Will these bills become law?

Almost certainly not all. But some will. And New Jersey is not alone. Bills that affect construction contractors are percolating through nearly every state legislature. If history is a guide, construction contract law will change in most states this year.

And the penalty for not complying? In some states, it’s a fine of several hundred to several thousand dollars. In states that license contractors, it’s suspension or loss of a license. In most states, the contract is void. You may have no right to collect the contract price. Click here to see the penalties that apply in your state.

So how is a contractor supposed to know about changes in the law? That’s easy. Construction Contract Writer keeps your agreements legal, no matter where you work, no matter the type of job and no matter how the law changes. That’s one thing not likely to change.