NJ contractors have made headlines this month, but not necessarily the ones that they may have envisioned. Five dozen home improvement contractors, all based out of New Jersey, have been cited for violations that range from operating without a proper registration to failure to complete projects that were pre-paid by customers. The situation has enraged homeowners and contractors alike and has some clamoring for the government to set better statewide standards that will define responsible contracting. In an op-ed for the Times of Trenton, Michael Capelli, a 30-year union contractor, outlined some principles that the state should look to adhere to if they plan on setting new standards in order to help consumers and contractors identify acts of malpractice.
Public trust in the building industry dissipating
Capelli’s primary concern is that such criminal acts reflect poorly on the entire building industry. In 2012 there were over 1,400 complaints about home improvement contractors in New Jersey which is the most of any category currently regulated by state officials. With customers not receiving the support they expect from NJ contractors, and since such problems are happening frequently, they may be less likely to trust others in the industry (plumbers, electricians, etc.). And no one wants to see their business suffer because of a few builders who have done their best to tarnish the reputation of the entire industry in New Jersey.
Counteracting public distrust through greater regulation
To reverse the disturbing trend Capelli has made an argument for greater government regulations and standards over the industry. Such regulations, according to Capelli, would be used to measure contractor responsibility and would have to adhere to three principles:
1. The development of a sensible and fair contracting process
2. Clear and reasonable contracting standards
3. Increased transparency and accountability
A fair contracting process with clear standards and transparency should reduce hidden costs for consumers and will renew trust in the industry. Renewed trust should help re-establish the state’s declining building industry but it will not do enough to revitalize it. To do that, the government will have to work on establishing new incentives, tax breaks and greater investment in building. Capelli’s argument is by no means definitive as greater regulation could also negatively affect the industry. But, what it does do is highlight that builders across the state are in need of support which they should be receiving from their local and state representatives.