12/2/2005 - Mandatory Contractor Registration

All Home Contractors Must Register with State

By Joseph Mellone
Land Use Administrator / Code Official
City of Hackensack

In May of 2004, then-Gov. James E. McGreevey signed the Home Improvement Contractor Registration Act into law. The law sets forth an oversight of contractors who perform certain kinds of residential construction. The state recently announced that this will become effective Jan. 1. The law regulated by the state Division of Consumer Affairs requires all contractors to have a valid registration for all residential construction in New Jersey. The contractors must have a valid registration when performing alterations or additions to or within a residential dwelling. This includes, and is not limited to, driveways, retaining walls, patios, walkways, sheds and fences.

Question: What does this mean for a resident applying for a building permit?

Answer: The Department of Community Affairs, which has jurisdiction over the local Building Departments, has instructed that a building permit cannot be issued unless the contractor has a valid registration number. The local Building Department’s hands are tied on this issue.

Question: What is the purpose of this law?

Answer: Anyone with a pick-up truck and a hammer can become a contractor and since interest rates are so low, there have been a rash of complaints to the Department of Consumer Affairs. The horror stories received from taxpayers range from shoddy work, substandard craftsmanship, or contractors who have taken deposits and never performed the work which ends up costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. The law was enacted to track these contractors and provide a database to homeowners when they are preparing to invest in their homes. By contacting the Department of Consumer Affairs, a consumer will be able to check on the contractor they are hiring to perform the work on their residence.

Residents can visit www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/contractor.htmfor any questions regarding the law or the registration process. Contractor registration forms are also available online.