Proposed bill would require contractors to file for surety bond before starting home improvement projects

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – The Iowa Attorney General’s office released new numbers Wednesday showing consumer complaints returned to pre pandemic numbers in 2021… decreasing from 2020. The attorney general is also proposing a new bill that would help protect homeowners who are looking for home improvement projects.

There were plenty of home improvement and repair projects across much of Iowa in 2020 thanks to the derecho.

That year also saw more than 4,000 consumer complaints – with the Iowa Attorney General office saying home improvement problems is a top grievance.

That’s why the Attorney General wants to require contractors to have a $75,000 surety bond for doing work on homes or businesses…. insurance to safeguard those looking for improvements.

”We’ve gone to court to enforce the law. And in many times we’ve been successful. We’ve put out of business. We’ve kept them out of the state. But collecting the money for the consumer is really difficult. Sometimes there is no money to collect. The contractor has spent it already. There are no assets to seize,” said Lynn Hick, Office of the Attorney General of Iowa Chief of Staff.

The AG’s office is proposing a bill it said would benefit consumers and reputable contractors… and one local contractor sees promise in the plan.

”From the spirit of the law I like what they’re trying to accomplish. If it gets people out of the industry that shouldn’t be in it or people that are purposely hurting it by doing poor quality work, I love where they’re trying to go with it,” said Tom Casey, Home Town Restyling President.

But Casey said there are some concerns as well.

”I’ve never heard of a blanket bond. So, I’m curious if this is 75 thousand dollars per job. Because, for example Hometown Restyling did over the 11-hundred projects this last year. Would I have to get 11 hundred different bonds? Everything from a two window job to a hundred thousand dollar sunroom. Are they all considered the same?,” said Casey.

The AG’s office said the bill would require a contractor to file with the state guaranteeing it had the right insurance. In an effort to bring down the number of Iowans who say they’ve been ripped off.

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