Pennsylvania Passes Legislation Regulating Contractors

by Owen Sechrist

  The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recently passed legislation to regulate the home improvement industry.  In addition to many other measures the bill establishes a requirement that all contractors obtain a registration number from the State to perform contracting work in PA.  I'll discuss some of the important aspects of this bill.   There is a provisioin requiring a contract between the homeowner and contractor as well as several requirements of that contract.  These are just some of the requirements:
  1. Contract must be in writing and legible and include the contractor's registration number
  2. There must be an aproximate start and completion date.
  3. The names, addresses and telephone numbers of all subcontractors on the project must be listed.
  4. Maximum percentage deposit amounts due at contract signing are established.
  There are several other significant aspects of this leislation, one is that the State registration number must be used in all advertising.  This at least gives the consumer something to watch out for, although the fees to register as a contractor are insignificant enough that the will do very little to weed out the riff raff from our industry.  One small caveat is that if a contractor has had valid complaints filed against them they can lose their privelege to register.  I imagine this will bring about the types of complaints I hear from contractors in other states with licensing where fly by night operations simply invent false registration numbers or use the numbers of legitimate businesses.   There are two provisions in this bill that get my blood boiling.  One is the requirement for the contractor to carry general liability insurance coverage in the amount of $50,000.  I think this is an absolute joke and a complete slap in the face to both legitimate contractors and Pennsylvania consumers.  I think the limit should be set at $1,000,000 minimum coverage.   The other provision is the one that exempts large retailers from having to register, and more to the point, risking losing their registration and ability to contract installation services.  The big box stores have horrible installation track records and consistently hire underqualified subcontractors and dictate installation prices.  There are endless complaints about them online and there is absolutely no reason why they should be exempt from this legislation.

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