Ohio’s HCSSA Loses Steam; Remodelers Beware!

In 2012, the Ohio General Assembly gave some relief to #homebuilders and #contractors, and carved out “home construction services” from the Consumer Sales Practices Act – the Ohio consumer protection law that can impose treble (aka, triple) damages and legal fees against contractors (See ORC 1345.02). That carve-out and resulting statute is the Home Construction Service Suppliers Act, ORC 4722.01. The HCSSA is still homeowner-friendly, but it is far more reasonable and fair with respect to contract disputes.

Since then, many in the #homeconstruction industry have believed they were freed from the rigidity and harshness from the #CSPA, as long as their contract was for more than $25,000.

In December 2022, an Ohio appellate court denied that belief. According to Beder v. Cerha Kitchen & Bath, 2022-Ohio-4463#homeremodeling and renovation projects are not excepted from the #CSPA. In other words, home remodeling contractors can potentially be sued for triple damages and the homeowner’s legal fees, even where their project is for more than $25,000.

The HCSSA says “home construction service” means the construction of a residential building. This court held that “construct” means to build new, not to remodel or repair – which is candid ignores what a residential builder/contractor does. The statute also says that an HCS includes work on an individual dwelling unit within a structure containing 4 or more units… which means if a contractor guts and rebuilds any portion of an apartment or condo unit in a larger building, that falls with the HCSSA. But if you gut and rebuild any portion of a single family home, it doesn’t – the CSPA controls.

This is only one appellate court’s opinion, and it’s certainly possible the Ohio Supreme Court and/or the General Assembly get back involved (or both). But for the foreseeable future, this does not bode well for #residentialconstruction companies that don’t build new houses. Home remodeling and renovation contractors need to immediately re-evaluate their #constructioncontracts and processes to ensure they are not violating the CSPA, which once again seems to be the primary statute governing their work.

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