by Walt Maxson for BAGI and The Indianapolis Star

Federal and state laws require specific information to be provided to the remodeling customer prior to work beginning.  Many contractors ignore this responsibility, thereby rendering their contract invalid.  A reputable contractor will provide all of the following information:

1. Under Federal requirements the remodeling contractor must give every homeowner or apartment owner the EPA booklet entitled "Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home,²'if "yes" can be answered to these criteria:

a. Was the house or apartment built before 1978?

b. Is the contractor receiving any form of compensation for the work?

c. Is more than 2 square feet of painted surface being distributed?

d. Is the work specifically excluded from this law? (certain minor repairs and emergency renovations)

2. When a transaction, valued at more than $500, is presented to a buyer outside of the seller¹s store or office, it must be accompanied with a Notice of Right of Rescission.  This Notice explains to the buyer that they may cancel the transaction without penalty at any time during the next three business days after the transaction date.

3. In May of 2001, the Indiana Home Improvement Act passed by the Indiana General Assembly, specified that the home improvement supplier shall provide a completed home improvement contract to the consumer before it is signed by the consumer.  The contract must contain at a minimum the following:

a. Consumer¹s name and address of the property to be improved.

b. Contractor¹s name, address and the names and phone numbers of any agent whom consumer problems and inquires can be directed.

c. The date the home improvement contract was submitted to the consumer and any time limitations on the consumer¹s acceptance of the contract.

d. A reasonably detailed description of the proposed home improvements.

e. If the description required in subdivision ³d² does not include the specifications, a statement that the specifications will be provided o the consumer before commencing any work and that the home improvement contract is subject to the consumer¹s separate written and dated approval of the specifications.

f. The approximate starting and completion dates of the home improvements.

g. A statement of any contingencies that would materially change the approximate completion date.

h. The home improvement contract price.

i. Signature lines for the contractor and each consumer with a legible printed or typed version of that person¹s name directly after of below the signature.

 4.  A modification (i.e. change order) to a home improvement contract is not    enforceable against a consumer unless the modification is stated in a writing that is   signed by the consumer.