Contractors are expected to have a basic understanding of what projects require a Home Improvement Contractor (HIC) registration. When asked, most contractors can recite that projects exceeding $1,000 in value involving “pre-existing, owner-occupied, one-to-four-family residences” require an HIC registration. We all know what a pre-existing house is and we all know what a one-to-four-family residence is. An owner-occupied home, however, is not always as easy to identify. There are two notable instances where OCABR will consider a house to be “owner occupied,” even if the homeowner does not live there as a primary residence when the contract is signed with the contractor.
In 2001, the Massachusetts Appellate Court decided a case (Simas v. House of Cabinets, 53 Mass. App. Ct. 131, 136-137 (2001)) where a homebuyer purchased a home and wanted renovations prior to moving in. The project did not go well and the homeowner sought various forms of relief under the Massachusetts HIC Law. In court, the contractor argued that the HIC law did not apply because the owner did not yet occupy the house. The court ruled that a home is considered owner occupied when the homeowner hires a contractor and intends to live in the home as a primary residence once the construction is complete. In my experience, this situation usually occurs when a homebuyer purchases a home that needs repairs or is uninhabitable. In those circumstances, contractors must have an HIC registration prior to signing a contract with those homeowners.
Contractors should also be aware that the person who owns the home is not the only person that will be considered an owner. For the purposes of determining whether a home is owner occupied, OCABR considers “a tenant authorized by the homeowner, who orders, contracts for, or purchases the services of a contractor or subcontractor” to be an owner. See 201 CMR 18.01(2) Owner. In other words, if a tenant of a home hires a contractor, the home will be considered owner occupied. Only on rare occasions will a tenant purchase home improvement services valued over $1,000, but contractors should be aware that an HIC registration is required to be hired for those projects.
Health Insurance Open Enrollment posted on Oct 24
Looking for health insurance for you or your family and your employer doesn’t offer it? The Commonwealth’s Health Insurance Connector’s Open Enrollment begins this year on November 1, and continues through January 31st, 2017. Massachusetts and federal law prohibit consumers from purchasing an insurance plan outside of the Open Enrollment period unless there is a qualifying event, such as a birth or adoption of a child, marriage, divorce, loss of insurance through employer, etc.
Have a Safe and Spooktacular Halloween posted on Oct 24
Halloween is a night of tricks, treats, and lots of fun. Unfortunately it’s also anight when people often forget to exercise caution. The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation would like to provide everyone with a few tips to help make this Halloween a …Continue Reading Have a Safe and Spooktacular Halloween
Buying a car in Massachusetts: What consumers should know about auto insurance posted on Oct 17
If you’re thinking of buying a car, it’s important to consider how much you want to pay for auto insurance. First, understand how much insurance you need. If you are financing or leasing a new car, you will have to purchase comprehensive and collision …Continue Reading Buying a car in Massachusetts: What consumers should know about auto insurance