Home Contractors

Who is a Home Improvement Contractor?
Home improvement contractors are individuals and companies that are involved in repairing, renovating, modernizing, painting, installing, replacing, improving, constructing, restoring, remodeling, moving, or demolishing residential or non-commercial properties.

Home improvement contractors include those who work on residential driveways, sidewalks, swimming pools, terraces, patios, additions, landscaping, fences, porches, windows, doors, cabinets, kitchens, bathrooms, garages, finished basements, basement waterproofing, fire protection devices, security protection devices, central heating and air conditioning equipment, water softeners, heaters, and purifiers, solar heating or water systems, insulation installation, roofing and siding, wall-to-wall carpeting or attached or inlaid floor coverings, and more.

Each year, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs receives thousands of complaints from consumers who hire contractors to do costly repair projects and who are less than satisfied with the results. Consumers complain about shoddy workmanship, missed deadlines and also about the contractor’s failure to complete the work or to start the project at all.
The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act is designed to protect you from misrepresentation, fraud and deception in consumer transactions, including contracts for home improvement work. In addition, the Contractors’ Registration Act requires home improvement contractors to register with the State.
Home improvement contractors had to initially register with the Division of Consumer Affairs by December 31, 2005, and must register annually thereafter, unless specifically exempted.
Home improvement contractors who are not registered with Consumer Affairs will not be issued municipal construction permits and will not be permitted to perform home improvement work in New Jersey.
More information about the new law may be found on the Division’s Web Site shown below.
Note: Registration with the State does not constitute an endorsement of or approval for the home improvement contractor.
Obtain a written contract. Contracts for home improvement projects costing $500 or more must be written and must include the legal name and business address of the contractor as well as a start date, a completion date, a description of the work to be done, and the total price. The contract must also include the contractor’s registration number.
Ensure that all applicable construction permits are obtained from the local municipality. Either the owner or a contractor acting as the owner’s agent may obtain a building permit.
If an electrician or plumber is doing the work, the municipal permit must be signed and sealed by the New Jersey licensed electrical contractor or licensed master plumber.
If the homeowner has hired an architect to draw up the plans, the licensed architect must sign off on them. Determine from the municipality what inspections are needed and when they must be performed.
Final inspections must be completed BEFORE final payment is made to the contractor. For information on inspections, see the notice printed in large type on the back of the construction permit.


Persons or companies licensed by the State, such as plumbers, electrical contractors, and architects, are not required to register as home improvement contractors if they are acting within the scope of their profession. Before hiring any of the professionals listed below, check the Licensee Search link on the Division’s Web site or call the appropriate licensing board to determine the person doing the work is licensed to do so and that his/her license is active and in good standing.

Home Repair Checklist:

  • Contact Consumer Affairs at 732-431-7900 to ensure that the contractor you are considering is registered and whether he/she has been the subject of any complaints.
  • Get written estimates from at least three contractors. Ask the contractors how long they have been in business, if they have liability insurance (they are required by law to carry liability insurance) and if they will be using subcontractors for your project.
  • Contact the references your contractor gives you. Ask each person whether the job was completed on time, whether there were any unexpected costs, whether the workers showed up on time and they cleaned up when finished, and whether they would use the contractor again.
  • Do not pay for the entire job up front. It is customary to pay one-third in advance, one-third halfway through the job and one-third upon completion. Do not use cash to pay the contractor.
  • Do not sign a contract you do not totally understand.
  • If you sign a contract, you must be given notice that you have three business days during which you may cancel the contract for any reason.
  • Make sure all manufacturer warranties and guarantees are in writing and that the contract states name brands or quality/grade of materials to be used.
Page Last Updated: 12/5/2019 1:18:00 PM

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