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Before entering into a home improvement contract with a homeowner, a contractor should understand the differences between registering as an individual contractor, with or without a D/B/A (doing business as), or as a corporation. Contractors and homeowners should be certain that the name the contractor uses on the contract agreement matches the name that the contractor is registered under with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.

M.G.L Chapter 142A, the Home Improvement Contractor Act (HIC Act), requires contractors who perform residential contracting on an existing one to four unit owner-occupied primary residence in Massachusetts to register with this Office. All too often, a contractor registers with us as John Smith, but enters into contract agreements as Smith Home Improvement, LLC.  Demonstrating transparency in dealings with the homeowner beginning with the name under which a contractor operates, advertises publicly and contracts can help the contractor to avoid committing any violation of the HIC Act that could result in penalties or administrative fines.

The following examples should help contractors determine how they should register with our Office. This is not comprehensive by any means, and contractors with questions about registration should contact us.  **Any similarities to persons or entities is purely coincidental and not an indication of an incorrect registration status.

Register as an individual if:

  • You are an individual/sole proprietor and are not incorporated with the Massachusetts Secretary of State.
  • You are not incorporated but do business under a trade name/fictitious name/ doing business as name. You must provide this Office with a copy of the DBA issued by your local city/town clerk.

Examples:

  1. HIC Certificate of Registration for John Smith. He can only enter into home improvement contracts with homeowners as John Smith.

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  1. HIC Certificate of Registration for John Smith, Doing Business As Smith Home Improvement. This registration with a trade name allows John Smith to enter into contracts with homeowners as John Smith or Smith Home Improvement.

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Register as a corporation:

  • If John Smith decides to incorporate (Inc., Corp, Corporation, etc.) or become a LLC (Limited Liability Company) or LLP (Limited Liability Partnership) through a filing with the Secretary of State’s Office, he must then register his company with our Office and will no longer hold an individual registration. Smith Home Improvement, LLC would be the name under which he is operating and would be printed on his contracts, while John Smith, as the primary contractor doing the work, would be the named responsible person for the LLC under the registration.

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What about employees?

Regardless of whether you are registered as an individual or a corporation, your employees may use your HIC registration number in order to show association with the company, pull permits, perform labor, etc. To register your employees, you must have them fill out supplemental registration card applications and be sure to list every employee who uses your HIC registration when you apply or renew an application. But remember, the contract agreement between you and the homeowner must still contain your HIC registration and the exact name under which you registered.

For more information on HIC registration and renewal, visit our website.

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. 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 Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.

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