Projects Over $500 Require Written Contracts
In California, all residential home improvement contracts must be in writing for all home improvement projects over $500. A contract constitutes a legal agreement between two or more people and is strictly defined by California Business and Professions Code Section 7159. This written agreement is one of the most important communication tools for both the contractor and consumer. A well written contract will accurately define what is to be accomplished by the contractor and will prevent any misunderstandings about what a job will entail. Details of the contract should delineate how the work will be done, when it will be done, what materials will be used, and how much it will cost.
All home improvement contract and subsequent changes should be legible, easy to understand, and inform the consumer of their rights. Generally speaking, homeowners who enter into contracts with contractors to improve, remodel or repair their homes almost always have a right to cancel the contract, without any penalty or obligation, within three business days after signing the contract. The most common grounds for cancelling (rescinding) a contract are fraud, mistake, undue influence, breach of contract, illegality and unconscionability. If you are promised something verbally make sure that it is included in writing. Don’t sign anything until you understand the contract and agree to the terms.
Oral Home Improvement Contracts
There have been a few cases in California where oral home improvement contracts have been enforced by a court. These cases usually involve situations in which the contractor has performed all or substantially all of the work agreed upon. Parties contracting for the work refused to pay for it on the basis that there was no written contract as required by law. The courts usually uphold the position of the contractor in these cases and cite the sophistication of the persons contracting for the work as a factor.
DiJulio Law Group