Hearings on Ohio Home Improvement Bill #148 Highlight National Home Improvement Month

May 31, 2005

It is reportedly only fitting that recent hearings on HB #148 requiring statewide registration of home improvement contractors be heard in the month of May since it is National Home Improvement Month.

On May 17, members of the Professional Remodelers of Ohio testified
before the Commerce and Labor Committee in support of HB #148 sponsored by state representative James Trakas of Independence.

Those members of Professional Remodelers of Ohio testifying in favor of the bill included certified professional remodeling contractors Terry Bennett, CPR of Terry Bennett Builders and Remodelers; Christine Perkins, CPR of the Construction Team and Professional Remodelers of Ohio President Richard Kasunic, CPR of Regency Windows.

In addition, committee members heard from an Ohio homeowner who was recently burnt by an unscrupulous contractor and featured on a local television station.

All of the contractors testifying in favor of HB #148 have reportedly been long-time advocates of setting standards for home improvement contractors and together they represented 75 years of experience in the remodeling industry.

PRO Executive Director Brenda Callaghan attended both the proponent and opponent hearings and stated that she was deeply disappointed that committee members did not know that five of the six people testifying against HB #148 were not remodeling contractors. “Although they are members of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) most of them were not professional remodeling contractors.”

Callaghan added that she thought it was of utmost importance that those testifying in support of HB #148 were actual professional remodeling contractors and homeowners. “Those are the people that will be affected by any home improvement legislation.”

Opponents insisted that they were in favor of state registration and or
licensing for home improvement contractors, yet could not verbalize what needed to be taken out or added to HB #148.

Also testifying as an “interested party” was Associate Director Ron
Bridges of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). He stated that the bill was a good first step to protect older homeowners from home improvement fraud.

According to Callaghan the bill creates a unified professional identity
for Ohio’s approximately 30,000 home improvement contractors and sets such standards as requiring contractors to carry workers’ compensation and liability insurance. It also sets limits on the amount of deposits homeowners should give which will provide a safeguard for many homeowners who are asked to give large deposits to unscrupulous so-called contractors never to be seen again.

Most importantly, the bill sets up an Ohio Home Improvement Contractor Examining Board that will create and maintain, on a current basis and as a permanent record, an electronic database that contains all the information submitted by each applicant for registration. This would allow the state to start a tracking system that could stop unscrupulous so-called contractors moving from city-to-city.

Although some municipalities have registration in place, Callaghan stated that there are more than 1,300 townships in the state of Ohio with little or no building oversight. Home Improvement is a $234 billion industry and growing and Ohio is one of only a handful of states that does not require contractors to be state registered.

The Ohio Attorney General’s office received almost 3,000 home improvement complaints in 2004. The Better Business Bureau also consistently ranks home improvement in the top three of consumer complaints.

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