I receive many calls from homeowners complaining about home improvement contractors. Typically the contractor has all the money and the job is 20% completed.
Initially, it makes sense for a homeowner to have an attorney review a home improvement contract before signing it. It amazes me that someone would agree to a $100,000.00 transaction without legal counsel. An experienced attorney can review the contract to ensure that it contains all essential terms, and also to create a incremental payment schedule which prevents the contractor from getting too far ahead, among other things.
It is extremely important to make sure that the contractor is licensed by the State of New Jersey, that the contractor is insured and also to see if there are any complaints against the contractor with the State. Also, it is critical to ensure that the contractor actually applies for the construction permit at the beginning of the project. It should be noted that the application requires the homeowner’s signature!
If you happen to sign a home improvement contract without legal counsel, and your contractor walks with your money, there is still hope through litigation. First the contract must be reviewed to see if it complies with the New Jersey home improvement regulations. If the contract is missing one or more material terms, then the contractor may be liable for attorneys fees and treble damages under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. This ups the ante in the lawsuit. Also, although the contractor may be a corporation or limited liability company, in case of consumer fraud, the principal(s) of the company may be sued personally, which increases the chances of recovering any money judgment for breach of the home improvement contract.
Obtaining the judgment in the lawsuit does not mean that the contractor has to write you a check. Rather, it takes legal skill and experience to find ways to execute on the contractor’s assets and income to convert that judgment into cash. I have substantial expertise, not only in commercial litigation but also in collection work.
Call me today to discuss your matter!