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Tips to Homeowners

January 12, 1986|Armand L. Fontaine

Question: If I sign a contract for home improvement with a licensed contractor but need to cancel, may I do so? Are there any penalties?

Answer: If you sign a contract, in your home, with a contractor, you may cancel it within three business days. Including Saturday and Sunday, you would have five days to reconsider.

In fact, the following words should be right below the signature line of the contract: "You, the buyer, may cancel this transaction at any time prior to midnight of the third business day after the date of this transaction. See the attached Notice of Cancellation form for an explanation of this right."

The contractor should also give you a "Notice of Cancellation" form which you can execute by sending it to him or her. This is part of federal consumer legislation for contracts written in the home.

Q: Generally speaking, is it true that housing costs are down?

A: According to the National Assn. of Realtors, housing prices have been increasing moderately, roughly 3%%-3 1/2% a year for the past two or three years. The sale of existing family homes increased to 3.43 million units in August, which is the highest level of sales in almost six years.

Q: Many years ago, we had gas heaters in several rooms that were connected to gas pipes. Are there any such items still available?

A: There is a firm that manufactures chimney-less real-flame fireplaces. You can contact the Carrera Distributing Co., at 1334 Parkview Ave., Manhattan Beach, 90266.

Q: I was recently mailed a "20-day preliminary notice of lien" by a subcontractor doing work on my home. Does this mean that my property is liened and that he hasn't been paid?

A: No. The law states that subcontractors and material men should send a preliminary lien form to you within 20 days of the time that they begin work. Most subcontractors and material dealers do not do this because the notice often confuses homeowners.

The form merely notifies you that they are doing work on your property, and if they are not paid by you or the general contractor, they have the right to file a lien on your property. All you have to do is to secure the release of lien from the individual who sent you the preliminary notice at the time that you pay.

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