Hiring a contractor? Make sure they're registeredAs homeowners move to complete odd jobs and home improvement projects before winter, the Department of Consumer Protection reminds consumers to make sure that any home improvement contractors and their salesmen are properly registered in Connecticut before agreeing to work with them.

“Homeowners should be particularly cautious when a contractor or salesperson initiates contact, especially when the sales pitch is made in-person or door-to-door,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein. “Even telemarketing pitches to clean your gutters or sweep your chimney should put consumers on alert — are these legitimate businesses with good track records in Connecticut?”

All home improvement contractors — including roofers, driveway pavers and those who install or repair chimneys, fences, siding, gutters, insulation, windows, masonry and underground fuel storage tanks — must be registered with the Department of Consumer Protection.

Additionally, plumbers, heating and ventilation workers, sheet metal workers, electricians and other professionals require a current Connecticut license in order to practice their craft. Chimney sweeping does not require a home improvement registration, but, as with all contractors that you hire, you want to know that the company has adequate insurance coverage to protect you in case someone is injured on your property.

In order to determine if someone is a registered home improvement contractor, Rubenstein suggests that consumers search the terms “home improvement contractor” or “home improvement salesperson” atelicense.ct.gov or call the Department’s Complaint Center Hotline at 800-842-2649 during business hours. If you have information about an unregistered salesperson or contractor, call the home improvement line at 860-713-6110.

“The registration requirement provides valuable protection to the consumer,” Rubenstein said. “The Home Improvement Guaranty Fund can provide victimized consumers with up to $15,000 restitution per contract, but only if they used a registered contractor. There’s no good reason for a reputable contractor to skirt this requirement, and no need for a homeowner to work with an unregistered or unlicensed individual.”

In general homeowners should:

• Obtain three bids or offers.

• Contact referrals from prior customers.

• Get all offers in writing prior to signing a contract.

• Keep a copy of the written contract, which contains the contractor’s registration number, allows a three day right of cancellation, and includes beginning and end dates.

• Verify that the contractor is registered.  If the contractor is not registered and there are any claims filed, the homeowner would not have access to the Home Improvement Guaranty Fund.

• Be sure that you or your contractor obtain appropriate permits from your town. It’s wise to include in your contract that final payment is contingent on the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy by your town or city building inspector.

For additional information, visit ct.gov/dcp under Home Improvement.