Acumen Law Group, LLC

Illinois Home Repair and Remodeling Act: A Cautionary Tale for Contractors

The Illinois Home Repair and Remodeling Act, 815 ILCS 513, is a statute obligating residential contractors to (i) have a written contract, (ii) include certain terms in the contract, such as price, insurance, and dispute resolution, (iii) provide the homeowner with a brochure informing them of certain rights, and (iv) obtain a receipt for giving the brochure.   Recent appellate court decisions involving the Act reveal an inconsistent landscape with respect to a contractor’s ability to recover monies owed where the Contractor fails to comply with the Act’s strictures.  Ultimately, the issue of whether a contractor can recover its fees from a homeowner  may depend on  which judicial district the issue is litigated in.  A map of the various judicial districts may be viewed here.

Fourth District

In 2007, the fourth district in Smith v. Bogard held that a contractor’s failure to comply with the Act is an absolute bar from recovery, i.e., prevents him from recovering any payment including mechanics liens, breach of contract claims, unjust enrichment claims and the like.

First District

In the first district, the court in K. Miller Construction Company, Inc. v. McGinnis provided that a contractor’s failure to comply with the Act still prevents the payment recovery based on a mechanic’s lien claim and breach of contract claim; however, the contractor may recover payment based on a claim for quantum meruit (unjust enrichment, which provides that even if there wasn’t a contract, the owner benefited from the work and should have to pay for that work).

Second District

In a decision subsequent to K. Miller Construction, the second district held in Artisan Design Build, Inc. v. Bilstrom that a contractor’s failure to provide the homeowner with the brochure required under the Act does not remove the contractor’s right to recover in either equity (quantum meruit) or law (breach of contract, mechanic’s lien, etc.).  So what do these decisions mean for residential contractors and homeowners?


Consider the following scenario: a contractor finishes his work under a home-repair contract with a homeowner, and is owed $10,000 for the job by the homeowner, but fails to provide a copy of the brochure, or fails to comply with other provisions of the Act.  In the fourth district, the homeowner will not have to pay the $10,000 even if his house is completely repaired according to the contract.  In the first district, the contractor may recover the payment because the homeowner in fact benefited from the contractor’s work, but the recovery amount may be less than $10,000.  Finally, in the second district, the contractor can recover the payment, either in law or in equity.


Although the judicial decisions in the first and second districts are more favorable to contractors, they are only controlling over law suits filed within these districts.  Given the inconsistency of rulings between the various appellate districts, it is likely that the Illinois Supreme Court will intervene and issue an opinion on the matter.  Until that time, however, contractors  should strictly comply with the Act.

The best way to ensure that you are in compliance is to consult with an Illinois attorney who is familiar with the Home Repair and Remodeling Act.   If you have any questions regarding the Act or construction law generally, please call one of our experienced attorneys at Acumen Law Group.

Authored by Bardia Fard, Esq. and Shoko Asaka, Law Clerk