California has enacted a special statute, the California Home Improvement Business statute, that sets out what must be included in a home improvement contract. This was a somewhat unusual (although hardly unprecedented) move by the California legislature since most California contracts are governed by general contract law, much of it created by courts rather than by the legislature. The statute includes:

  • Required wording that must be included;

  • Specific locations in the contract where the required wording must be included; and

  • Specific typefaces that must be used.

In other words, don’t try to draft a home improvement contract without consulting the statute first.

What Is a “Home Improvement Contract” Anyway?

Under California law, a home improvement contract applies to residential rather than commercial property. It may involve alteration, remodeling, repair, conversion, modernization, or addition to a residence. It might include, for example, projects such as:

  • Redesigning the interior of a residence by, for example, installing a spiral staircase;

  • Installing a swimming pool or a jacuzzi;

  • Enclosing a porch;

  • Constructing a basement; or

  • Similar activities.

The statute protects both homeowners and tenants.

What the Statute Does Not Cover

The California Home Improvement Business Statute does not cover:

  • The construction of a brand-new residence;

  • Contracts with a total price of of $500 or less; and

  • Certain small-scale service and repair contracts.

Remember that other legislation may cover the drafting of contracts for projects not covered by the California Home Improvement Business statute. It is only a minor exaggeration to say that, in California, some law or another applies to the construction of just about anything. 

Requirements Imposed By the Statute

Space limitations prevent a full description of the requirements of the statute. Some of its highlights, however, are listed below:

  • The contract must be in writing.

  • The contract must include the words “Home Improvement” in at least 10-point boldface type.

  • In general, no “fine print” is allowed – the text must be in at least 10-point type, and headings must be in boldface type.

  • The contract must contain the wording “You are entitled to a completely filled in copy of this agreement, signed by both you and the contractor, before any work may be started.” This wording must be printed in at least 12-point boldface type.

  • No work may be commenced until the contract has been signed and dated by both parties.

  • The contract must include terms regarding dates and addresses, relevant licenses and registrations, a clear description of the scope of work, approximate commencement and completion dates, and the total contract price.

  • Depending on the payment arrangements, the contract must include specific wording and typefaces that describe legal limitations on down payments and/or progress payments. This wording must be printed in all caps.  

We Can Help

Please allow us to reiterate that the foregoing is an incomplete outline of the requirements of the California Home Improvement Business statute. If you require further information, or if you need a home improvement contract drafted or revised on your behalf, call CKB Vienna today or contact us online to schedule a meeting where we can discuss your case. 

We serve clients in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County, Orange County, and Riverside County.