Maine has old homes and old homes need repairs. In fact, all homes will need repairs at some point! Home repairs can be expensive and can affect your life in many ways.
In Maine, contractors do not need a license. This means that in Maine, just about anyone with a hammer and a business card can represent themselves as a “contractor” or “carpenter.”
There are steps you can take to help protect yourself when you are having work done on your house.
Evaluate the Company/Individual You Might Hire
Look beyond the quote. A cheap price can indicate that you are not going to get high quality work.
- Talk to the contractor’s past customers.
- Check that the contractor has general liability insurance and that they also have workers’ compensation insurance.
- Try to find out if the company or contractor is financially healthy.
Have a Contract
Having a contract protects you! These are some key things to pay attention to:
- Be sure to read the contract.
- Make sure that the contract is specific.
- Do not pay the full price up front.
- Know when the work will start and when it will end.
A law called the Maine Home Repair Construction Contracts Act will likely apply if the work is:
- on your residence (not a business or commercial property) and
- the cost will be more than $3,000.
This law says that certain things need to be in a home construction contract. This information includes:
- the location and price of the work,
- the estimated dates of the work,
- the method of payment (the down-payment may not be more than one-third of the contract price),
- a description of the work, and other information.
You can read more about this required information and other important things to consider on the Maine Attorney General's page on home construction contracts. That page also has a listing of contractors the state has successfully sued for 'poor workmanship or failure to complete jobs' in recent years.
If this law applies, the only way a contractor can leave this information out of the contract is if the homeowner agrees. Any violation could be an "Unfair or Deceptive Trade Practice" under Maine law.
Following any local rules
- Do not assume that your town or city has a building code.
- Make sure that the work will follow local rules if they do exist.
It is best to try to protect yourself before there is a problem. But we know that is not always possible. If you have a dispute with a contractor, it is best to contact an attorney to discuss it. You can read more about home construction contracts in Maine in the Attorney General's Consumer Law Guide.