Home Improvements: Avoiding Common Mistakes of Most Homeowners
As the spring season begins, many of us will begin taking on those home improvement projects that have been piling up during the winter. While some of the more industrious homeowners will take on the project themselves, the remainder of us will opt to hire contractors to do the work on our behalf. It is important to find a contractor you deem trustworthy, but equally as important is knowing your legal rights and obligations under Illinois law.
In 2010, the Illinois legislature enacted the Illinois Home Repair and Remodel Act. Portions of that act can be found at 815 ILCS 513/1-999. The main purpose the Home Repair and Remodel Act was to protect Illinois consumers from aggressive and questionable behaviors of contractors working on their property. One of the most important parts of the act is the requirement that any contractor provide a disclosure pamphlet, which discloses important information regarding section 5 affidavits, lien waivers, and mechanic’s liens that will help you understand the legal rights of all parties involved.
A mechanic’s lien is a right of contractors, subcontractors, and materials providers to file a lien in an ascertainable amount against your home in order to protect the value they add to your house. As you can imagine, most of these professions provide work to your home and don’t get paid in full until the project is finalized. Mechanic’s liens provide a way to guarantee a remedy against the added value provide to your home via their work or materials.
There are two documents that you should collect, one at the very beginning which is known as a Section 5 Affidavit in accordance with the 770 ILCS 60/5. It is also sometimes referred to as a Contractor’s Sworn Affidavit. The document is filled out by your contractor and sworn as being true and accurate. Sworn affidavits include the name of every subcontractor and material provider that is going work on the project. Collecting this document is important because it keeps you privy to who is working on your property. In addition, it allows you to track whether or not the subcontractors and material providers are getting paid prior to any progress payments and/or final payments being made. This document also prevents homeowners from potentially paying twice, as it serves as a defense if the Contractor fails to pay any subcontractor or material provider in certain circumstances.
The document that you should collect after each payment is referred to as a lien release or a partial lien release. Partial lien releases are collected while making progress payments and the final lien release should be collected at the end of the project. Lien releases will include the payments due remaining to contractors and subcontractors, the final lien release should show no remaining balance. This document can serve as a receipt and a defense to any potential mechanics lien.
This blog is just to confirm a few of the documents you should collect, and in no way is it intended to be used as legal advice. If you should need assistance in managing your home improvement projects this summer or are having issues with a contractor, please contact our office to get assistance.
Written by: Kody L. Lake/Attorney