Is a Signed Contract Required for Anyone In Home Repair and Remodeling Business Before Initiating Work Exceeding $1000 ?

In Central Illinois Electrical Services, L.L.C. v. Slepian, 358 Ill. App. 3d 545, 831 N.E.2d 1169, 294 Ill. Dec. 844 (2005), a contractor filed a complaint to foreclose a mechanics' lien against homeowners, alleging that they failed to pay for labor and materials the contractor provided under an oral contract for work on their property. The homeowners raised an affirmative defense, alleging that because the contractor violated the Act, the oral contract for services was void and, therefore, could not form the basis of recovery under a mechanics' lien. The trial court found in favor of the contractor. This court disagreed with the trial court's decision, stating: "The language of the Act clearly and unambiguously requires anyone engaged in the business of home repair and remodeling to obtain a signed contract before initiating work that will exceed $ 1,000 in cost. The trial court erred in concluding the Act did not apply in the instant case, and the court should now hear any claims that were dismissed on that basis." Slepian, 358 Ill. App. 3d at 550, 831 N.E.2d at 1173. In Smith v. Bogard, 377 Ill. App. 3d 842, 879 N.E.2d 543, 316 Ill. Dec. 476 (2007), a contractor provided homeowners with an oral estimate of "$ 20,000 or less" for a room addition but did not provide a written contract or a consumer rights pamphlet. The homeowners filed a motion to dismiss the contractor's breach of contract action against them, claiming that the contractor was precluded from recovery. The trial court agreed, and the appellate court affirmed the trial court's decision, stating: "We find the Act applies to Smith, that Smith violated several provisions of the Act, and those violations support the dismissal of his breach-of-contract claim." Bogard, 377 Ill. App. 3d at 847-48, 879 N.E.2d at 548.