Your Local Indiana Attorneys

Defrauded by a Contractor? We can help!

Have you entered into an agreement with a home improvement contractor, only to be left with disappointment and unprofessional workmanship? Did a contractor make promises to you about your home improvement project that they did not live up to? At Massillamany, Jeter, & Carson we are here to help.

The Indiana legislature passed a law to protect consumers who enter into agreements for home improvements, who are usually unfamiliar with the industry and at the mercy of contractors. The Home Improvement Contract Act (HICA) protects consumers by holding contractors to specific requirements when they are hired to make improvements on a residential home. These home improvements include any alteration, repair, replacement, reconstruction, or other modification to a home, including the exterior of the home, that costs more than $150. HICA requires that the contractor include certain information in their agreements for home improvement work. Some of these requirements include:

  • The name of consumer and address of residential property,
  • The name and address of home improvement supplier and telephone name and number for an agent to whom the consumer can communicate any problems or inquires to,
  • A reasonably detailed description of the proposed home improvements,
  • The approximate start and end dates of the improvements,
  • A statement of any contingencies that would change the approximate completion date,
  • The contract price,
  • A statement whether any third-party subcontractor or other person will furnish labor, services, material, equipment or machinery in the job,
  • And signature lines for the contractor or its agent and the consumer with legible printed name.

The contractor must include all of these terms and deliver to the consumer a signed contract before the consumer can be required to make a down payment. If the contractor does not include these terms and violates HICA, it can be seen as a deceptive act by the court and the court can declare the contract as void. The contractor will be entitled to reasonable compensation for services provided, but the consumer has many remedies they can recover. The consumer can recover for damages suffered, cost to repair the defects, fines, and attorneys’ fees.

In Benge v. Miller, 855 N.E.2d 716 (Ind. Ct. App. 2006), the Millers hired a contractor to preform improvements to their home, including building a sunroom and remodeling a kitchen. The Millers were not satisfied with the work of the contractor and notified them in writing of the defects as well as seeking returns of overpayments. The contractor did not do many things they were contracted to do, including using incorrect bricks and cement, and left the Millers in a position where they had to pay another party to repair the damage. The court found in favor of the Millers on their claims of breach of contract, violation of the home improvement contract act, and home improvement fraud, and the Millers were entitled to a judgement amount that awarded them cost to repair the damage, complete the job properly, and attorney’s fees. This case shows how the courts will protect consumers like the Millers when contractors do a poor and incomplete job.

If you have entered into an agreement with a contractor for improvements to your home and were left unsatisfied or with incomplete work, Call us today. You don’t have to settle for less than what you were promised.

Mario Massillamany is the managing partner of the law firm of Massillamany & Jeter LLP and has fought the deceptive acts of contractors for over 16 years both criminally as a former prosecutor in the State of Indiana and now in the civil area in private practice. For more information on this topic, please contact Mr. Massillamany at (317) 576-8580 or by e-mail at: [email protected].