1250 Broadway, 27th Floor New York, NY 10001


Have you ever had to deal with a home improvement contractor?

It can be quite a nightmare.

But do not despair. The displeasure need not be unilateral.

A number of jurisdictions require home improvement contractors to be licensed. And, without that piece of paper, a contract reached with such an individual or entity may be unenforceable; which means that the contractor will be unable to collect any sums claimed to be due despite the work's performance.

By way of example, in Flax v. Hommel , Flax sued David Hommel for breach of contract and to recover damages for work undertaken on Flax's home. Hommel countersued for the contract's unpaid balance.

After the Nassau County Supreme Court refused to dismiss the contractor's counterclaim, Flax appealed to the Appellate Division, Second Department, which reversed. 

Here's why:

A home improvement contractor who is unlicensed at the time of the performance of the work for which he or she seeks compensation forfeits the right to recover damages based on either breach of contract or quantum meruit ... Since Hommel was not individually licensed ... at the time the contract was entered and the work was performed, the alleged contract between Hommel and the plaintiff was unenforceable ....

Please spare us flak(s) about this.

For a copy of the Appellate Division's decision, please use this link: Flax v. Hommel



Some five days after we  posted this entry, the AD2 issued a comparable decision in Al-Sullami v. Broskie . In that case, an unlicensed contractor was also unable to compel arbitration of the dispute (pursuant to the terms of parties' unenforfceable construction contract).