What to Look For When Signing a Home Improvement Contract

If you’re looking to hire a contractor to work on your home or property this year, you should
be familiar with the PA Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (HICPA). This law
requires contractors to keep registration up-to-date with the state of Pennsylvania and also
outlines what should be included in a home improvement contract.

So what should you look for in a contract? Here are the highlights of HICPA contract rules:

● Contains the contractor’s PA registration number
● Includes the signatures of the homeowner and contractor or salesperson on behalf of
the contractor
● Includes the contractor’s name, phone number and address (not a PO Box)
● Outlines approximate starting and completion dates
● Lists a description of the work to be performed, materials to be used and a set of
specifications that can’t be changed without a written change order signed by the
owner and contractor
● Includes the total sales price due under the contract, or a time and materials
provision, and the amount of any down payment plus the cost of special order
● Contains the names, addresses and phone numbers of all subcontractors on the
● Includes an agreement from the contractor that they will maintain proper liability
and property damage insurance
● Identifies the toll-free number (888-520-6680) for the PA Bureau of Consumer
● Lists your Right of Rescission, which gives you three business days to cancel the
contract without penalty, unless an Emergency Waiver was signed

In addition, for a contract of more than $5,000 dollars, the contractor cannot accept a
deposit of more than one-third of the contract price OR one-third of the contract price, plus
the cost of special order materials, which should be designated in the contract.

When hiring a contractor, check to see if prospective companies belong to a professional
organization like BBB and BANWPA and ask friends and neighbors for referrals. BBB
Accredited Businesses are required to maintain all industry licensing and/or registration
requirements in order to maintain BBB accreditation. Visit bbb.org or call 877.267.5222 for

Red Flags to Watch for When Hiring Home Repair Help

Home improvement scams abound, especially following a major storm, flood or other
weather event when many homeowners are trying to repair their homes. But contractor
scams can happen any time, so watch for these red flags when hiring a company to help
with home improvements or repairs:

● High-pressure sales tactics
● Requests for full payment upfront, in cash or by check written to an individual,
instead of a business
● Claims that no contract is needed
● Contractors lacking identification, including PA registration number, physical address
and phone number
● Company vehicles with out-of-state plates
● Door-to-door salespeople offering immediate work and too-good-to-be-true pricing
● Contractors claiming to have material leftover from a nearby job

Take your time and do your research when selecting a home improvement contractor. To
help find a company you can trust, search for free local company business information at
any time on bbb.org.