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Whether you’re a new homeowner or have been living in your dream house for decades, it is never too late to learn more about the Home Improvement Contractor (HIC) law and its programs.

In part four of our “HIC-Easy as 1-2-3” blog, we explore HIC from a homeowner’s perspective.

Who is considered a “homeowner” under HIC law?

For the purposes of HIC law, a homeowner is an individual owning and living in a home/building with at least one, but not more than four units. Residential contracting is the only type of contracting covered under HIC; therefore, the home being worked on by a registered contractor must be the owner’s primary residence.

Tips for hiring a registered contractor:

  • Research contractors and obtain several quotes.
  • Check the contractor’s registration and license status. Use our registered contractor search tool to check registration, view complaints, and more.
  • Request a detailed written home improvement contract. Necessary contract items include, but are not limited to, legal names of involved parties, start and completion dates, total project cost, materials, and payment schedule. A list of contract items and a sample contract can be found on our website.
  • Ensure that your registered contractor obtains the building permit needed for construction. If you apply for the permit, you may not be eligible for other HIC programs, such as the Guaranty Fund.

Remember, if the contractor you hire is not registered, you will not be protected by the HIC law. However, there may be other remedies available to you through the court system if necessary.

Options available should a dispute arise with your registered contractor:

In the event of a dispute, you may issue a 30-Day-Demand-Letter seeking a resolution that does not involve small claims court. You may also file a complaint with our Office against the contractor. If all efforts are exhausted, you may file for arbitration or go to court against the registered contractor. Contractors may also be eligible to file for arbitration if there is a clause in the written contract that permits it. (In parts two and three of our blog series we break down the HIC Arbitration Program and Guaranty Fund).

Additional HIC resources for homeowners:

Stay tuned for the finale of our “HIC—Easy as 1-2-3” blog series next week!


The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s vehicular and customized wheelchair Lemon Laws and Arbitration Programs, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry. If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer.

 

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