7 facts and myths about home improvement

-Jefferson County, Kentucky

1) In KentuckyA consumer can cancel a contractor job for any reason before or after 3 days.

Mostly fact.  The Federal Trade Commission has a “Cooling Off” Rule that allows consumers to cancel sales made at their homes within three days.  However, this Rule excludes sales that are made as a part of a request for the contractor to do “repairs or maintenance” on the consumer’s personal property.  

2) In Kentucky – Verbal change orders or agreements do not have to be kept or are not binding.

Yes and no.  “Provisions in contracts requiring any changes to be in writing can be altered by the parties’ course of dealing or waiver” (City of Sci. Hill v. Mayes, Sudderth & Etheredge, Inc., 2005 Ky. App. Unpub. LEXIS 769, *15; Willey v. Terry & Wright of Kentucky, Inc., 421 S.W.2d 362, 363 (Ky. 1967); Wehr Constructors, Inc. v. Steel Fabricators, Inc., 769 S.W.2d 51, 53-54 (Ky.App. 1988).  So, if the parties have a course of dealing that indicates that change orders don’t have to be in writing, then oral change orders will be enforced. For good measure, the best course of action for enforcing a change order is for it to be in writing.  

3) In Kentucky- Withholding payment for completed work is acceptable as long as a consumer has a valid reason.

Fact, with some modifications. The Kentucky Fairness in Construction Act does allow parties to withhold payment of “disputed” sums.  This statute has not been fully vetted by a Court yet, so General Contractors and Owners are frequently defending the withholding of payment by saying that they “dispute” the amount claimed and therefore, the amount is not due.  However, if the money is found to be withheld in “bad faith”, then the withholding party is liable for attorneys’ fees and interest at 12%. 

4) In Kentucky – Even if the contractor doesn’t have a license, they are legally required to have liability insurance, so consumers are still protected by the law. 

Myth. Any individual can purchase a liability insurance policy; however, most policies have conditions that only honor claims provided by a policy holder within the law. Not having a license (or valid license) would be outside of the law and could void any claim on damage to your property.

5) In Kentucky – Even if the contractor doesn’t have a license, the consumer isn’t liable if someone is injured on their property.

Myth. If a non-licensed contractor was injured while working on your property, you could be liable. Also, if damage is caused to your property or a neighbor’s property by a non-licensed contractor you employed, you could be financially responsible.

6) In Kentucky – Approval to complete construction on historical homes is easy to obtain.

This is also a myth. The link provided below is a guide about improving historic homes in Kentucky and the lengths homeowners have to go to make sure everything they do is in accordance with the legal guidelines. 

https://www.thisoldhouse.com/home-finances/21097121/5-common-construction-laws-you-should-know-before-you-build.com

7) In Kentucky – Consumers can hire unlicensed personnel to complete plumbing, HVAC, or electrical work.

Myth. This can be damaging to do so. Professionals in these fields are required to be licensed.

Sources: 

City of Sci. Hill v. Mayes, Sudderth & Etheredge, Inc., 2005 Ky. App. Unpub. LEXIS 769, *15; Willey v. Terry & Wright of Kentucky, Inc., 421 S.W.2d 362, 363 (Ky. 1967); Wehr Constructors, Inc. v. Steel Fabricators, Inc., 769 S.W.2d 51, 53-54 (Ky.App. 1988)

https://www.thisoldhouse.com/home-finances/21097121/5-common-construction-laws-you-should-know-before-you-build.com