By Karen E. Boston
Did you know that any home construction contract for more than $3,000 in materials or labor must be in writing and signed by both the home construction contractor and the homeowner or lessee? This is just one of the many protections included in Maine’s home construction contract statute. This statute provides that home construction contracts must contain at least certain minimum provisions, a few of which include:
- The name, address and telephone number of both the home construction contractor and the homeowner or lessee
- The location of the property upon which the construction work is to be done
- Both the estimated date of commencement of work and the estimated date when the work will be substantially completed
- The total contract price and the method of payment; the initial down payment is limited to no more than 1/3 of the total contract price
The contract must contain the following:
- Warranty statement:
“In addition to any additional warranties agreed to by the parties, the contractor warrants that the work will be free from faulty materials; constructed according to the standards of the building code applicable for this location; constructed in a skillful manner and fit for habitation or appropriate use. The warranty rights and remedies set forth in the Maine Uniform Commercial Code apply to this contract.”
There are specific provisions that apply to door to door sales and residential installation. Doing your "homework" is important before engaging in home construction and repair. It is a good idea to get references, whether from friends, co-workers or other contractors. If a contractor fails to comply with the home construction contract requirements, it may be a "red flag" and you may wish to avoid using that contractor.
If you have already entered into a contract and are dissatisfied with the contractor’s performance, you may wish to seek legal advice. In Maine, a violation of the Maine Home Construction Contract statute constitutes prima facie evidence of a violation of the unfair trade practices act. If the Court finds an unfair trade practice act violation, reasonable attorney’s fees will be awarded.
Furthermore, the contract must include a statement allowing the parties to adopt one of three methods of resolving contract disputes in addition to the option of a small claims action.
At Lipman & Katz we provide legal assistance to both homeowners and contractors and can assist with compliance with Maine’s statutory requirements. People make mistakes and problems arise. However, it is often how one deals with them that becomes most important. We would be glad to help you with your legal needs.