Written Contracts for Home Improvement Projects

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


Under the New California Homeowners Bill of Rights the State of California has found that it is essential to mitigate the negative effects on the economy and the housing by modifying the foreclosure process to ensure that borrowers who may qualify for a foreclosure alternative are considered for, and have a meaningful opportunity to obtain, available loss mitigation options. And that avoiding foreclosure, where possible, will help stabilize the state’s housing market and avoid the substantial, corresponding negative effects of foreclosures on families, communities, and the state and local economy.

The California Homeowners Bill of Rights prohibits notice of default (the first step in a foreclosure ) until 30 days after the mortgage servicer has:

Sent a first-class letter to the homeowner that includes the toll-free telephone number made available by HUD to find a HUD-certified housing counseling agency.

Attempt to contact the borrower by telephone at least three times at different hours and on different days.

Sent a certified letter, within two weeks after the telephone call requirements

Provided a means for the borrower to contact it in a timely manner, including a toll-free telephone number that will provide access to a live representative during business hours.

Posted a prominent link on the homepage of its Internet Web site containing the

following information:

Options that may be available to borrowers who are unable to afford their mortgage payments and who wish to avoid foreclosure, and

instructions to borrowers advising them on steps to take to explore those options,

A list of financial documents borrowers should collect and be prepared to present to the mortgage servicer when discussing options for avoiding foreclosure,

A toll-free telephone number for borrowers who wish to discuss options for avoiding foreclosure with their mortgage servicer, and

The toll-free telephone number made available by HUD to find a HUD-certified housing counseling agency.

This means the “bank” must give the homeowner a single point of contact with a live person, notice of the options to refi, and a list of documents needed to apply for a refi.

The new Bill of Rights also gives the homeowner the right to designate a lawyer or other representative to help in the loan modification and the foreclosure prevention process. My estimate is that this process will extend the time for a foreclosure to 9- 12 months from the date the “bank” decides to start the foreclosure process and give a fair opportunity for borrowers to refi or otherwise avoid foreclosure.

By David DiJulio:

For more informantion contact : DiJulioLawGroup.com