|NEWARK – As New Jersey continues its post-Superstorm Sandy recovery and prepares for the possibility of future incidents of flooding, many homeowners will seek to hire home elevation contractors who meet new State requirements for registration, insurance, and experience.
“The Division of Consumer Affairs has reached out to the community of home elevation contractors, to ensure they are aware of New Jersey’s strict new requirements and that they adhere to them,” Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve Lee said. “Consumers who seek to hire a contractor should call us directly, to learn about any specific contractor they may consider hiring.”
New Jersey’s home elevation contractors’ statute, which took effect October 1, requires that all contractors who offer home elevation services must, among other things:
- Have a named person in an ownership, employee, or consultant position who has a minimum of five years’ experience in home elevation; and
- Maintain $500,000 per occurrence of commercial general liability insurance, as well as a minimum of $1 million per occurrence of cargo or other insurance that specifically covers damages or losses to the homeowner, lessee, tenant or other party resulting from other home elevation activities; and
- Apply to the Division of Consumer Affairs for registration as a home elevation contractor, and receive from the Division a 12-digit registration number beginning “13HE”; and
- Provide the Division of Consumer Affairs with specific information about the company’s street address, ownership, business type, and other information.
As of October 1, 2014, all persons or businesses that solicit or perform home elevation work (defined as raising an entire residential or noncommercial structure to a higher level above the ground) must meet with all of the above requirements.
A limited exception applies to home elevation contracts signed before October 1, 2014. If the contractor is registered with the Division of Consumer Affairs as a home improvement contractor, and if the contractor maintains written proof that the consumer has been apprised of the new law and has knowingly elected to proceed with the contract, then the contractor does not need registration as a home elevation contractor for the purposes of completing that current contract. However, home elevation contractor registration is required for any subsequent contracts.
The Division of Consumer Affairs’ Home Elevation Contractors website provides additional information about the State’s requirements. Consumers and contractors should check the site regularly for any updates, especially before entering into a new contract.
The current State requirements are summarized in the Division’s Consumer Brief, “Hiring a Home Elevation Contractor: What You Should Know.”
A list of State-registered home elevation contractors can be found via the Division of Consumer Affairs’ License Verification website at www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov/LVinfo.htm.
Advice for Consumers
When seeking to hire a home elevation contractor, consumers should:
- Familiarize themselves with New Jersey’s requirements for home improvement contractors, as provided in the websites listed above.
- Contact the Division of Consumer Affairs at 888-646-6225 or 800-242-5846 to learn about specific contractors. Ask whether the contractor is properly registered to perform home elevation contracting in New Jersey, and whether the company has been the subject of consumer complaints.
- Obtain a copy of the contractor’s insurance policies. Contact the insurers to verify that the policies are still valid. All home elevation contractors must maintain $500,000 per occurrence of general liability insurance and $1 million per occurrence of cargo or other insurance.
- Contact your own insurance provider, to learn about any limits or conditions that may exist in your homeowner’s insurance policy with regard to home elevation.
- Ask for the names and contact information of references for whom the contractor has performed home elevation projects in the past, and ask those references about their experience.
- Demand a detailed contract that specifies the project’s scope, specific time frame, total cost, and other information. Under New Jersey law, contractors must provide a detailed contract for every home improvement project – including home elevation services – costing more than $500.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs online, or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.