Home improvement issues continue to generate concern and complaints from Connecticut consumers, according to the state's Department of Consumer Protection.

"With lower-rate mortgages tempting homeowners to trade up to a bigger house, or to refinance and expand or repair their existing home, we're finding that construction and home improvement activity is way up, and with it is the number of complaints in those areas," Consumer Protection Commissioner Edwin R. Rodriguez said.

In the agency's investigative review of the received complaints for 2004 and 2005, the total of actual home improvement and new home construction complaints in 2005 was 1,356, an eight percent increase over 2004, when the Department confirmed 1,253 complaints on home improvement issues, the Commissioner said.

"We screen each complaint after it comes into the agency to determine that it is indeed a bona fide issue that can be remedied through application of the various regulations and statutes we administer," said Rodriguez.

"Of the 1,552 complaints originally labeled as 2005 home improvement issues, only 1,356 were validated as such based on home improvement violations," Rodriguez said. That translates to an eight percent increase over the previous period. The remaining complaints were for unfair trade practices.

Rodriguez said an eight percent increase in the number of home improvement complaints is sizeable, but not unusual given the sheer volume of home improvement work being done.

In 2004, approximately 24,000 home improvement contractors were registered with department. That rose to 25,500 in 2005 and to 27,500 in 2005. Complaints seem to be closely tracking the increase in the number of registrants, according to the department.

The state's Home Improvement Guaranty Fund consistently provides restitution of approximately $2 million annually to consumers.