Section 4. (a) There shall be a private arbitration services program approved by the director, to consider disputes between owners and registered contractors and subcontractors, concerning or arising from contracts for residential contracting services. No claim may be filed for arbitration after two years from the date of the contract. Such arbitration shall be performed by private arbitration services approved by said director, and shall operate in accordance with the regulations promulgated by the director. Either party may elect to pursue an action in small claims court if the amount of the dispute is within small claims jurisdiction.
(b) All registered contractors and subcontractors who enter into contracts for residential contracting impliedly consent to the provisions contained in this section.
(c) A contractor or subcontractor who is required to submit to arbitration as a result of an owner’s application for arbitration may file a counterclaim, based on or arising from the same contract, in that arbitration.
(d) All findings of fact issuing from arbitration shall be taken as prima facie evidence in any subsequent appeal brought by either party ensuing from the matter considered in said arbitration.
(e) A contractor, subcontractor or homeowner may also appeal the decision of an arbitrator for a trial de novo in superior court or district court. Such appeal must be filed within twenty-one days from the issuance of such findings and shall stay any work or payment to the owner, contractor or subcontractor.