The Home Improvement Act of Connecticut renders a home improvement contract invalid and unenforceable against a homeowner unless several threshold requirements are met, including requirements that the contract be in writing, contain a starting and completion date, contain the registration number of the contractor and include a notice of the owner’s cancellation rights. Conn. Gen. State. § 20-429(a). In a matter of first impression, the Supreme Court of Connecticut recently considered whether the act solely prohibits a contractor from affirmatively enforcing a contract, or whether it also prohibits a contractor from using a contract against the interests of a homeowner in actions brought by a homeowner against the contractor.

In Hees v. Burke Construction, Inc. the homeowners sued a contractor for breach of contract to recover approximately $16,000 in costs to complete and repair the contractor’s work. The parties did not dispute the fact that there remained an unpaid balance of approximately $16,000 on the contract; however, the homeowners argued that because the contract violated the Home Improvement Act, the contractor’s damages were unenforceable and could not be used to offset the homeowners’ damages. The court held that the Home Improvement Act does not preclude a reduction in damages awarded to homeowners by the amount of any unpaid balance remaining on the contract, and noted that a holding otherwise would “award [homeowners] an unwarranted windfall that the legislature could not have intended.”

Hees v. Burke Construction, Inc., 961 A.2d 373 (Conn. 2009)