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Do you need roofing work, from normal wear and tear, ice damage or another reason due to the winter storms? Many homeowners must make repairs to their homes from the tough winter, and yet may not have found a contractor to make those repairs. If you are one of those homeowners still looking for a contractor, consider the information below.

The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation provides information for contractors and homeowners on the home improvement contractor requirements under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 142A as well as how to hire a home improvement contractor. Because many consumers will conduct online research in an effort to find the right contractor, we surveyed approximately 50 websites of home improvement contractors. In particular, we concentrated our research on roofing contractors. Roofing work requires a Home Improvement Contractor Certificate of Registration, which is obtained through this Office. According to Chapter 142A and the corresponding regulation, 201 CMR 18, home improvement contractors must post their registration number on all their advertisements, including their websites.

It may be beneficial to review contractors’ websites when deciding which contractor to hire. As a consumer, you may not be able to find some information online, such as pricing, but you may gain other useful information that assists you in choosing which contractors to contact to request an estimate on the work. Here are some of our findings:

  • No Pricing. The price of a project is often the bottom line information that matters most to you—it could make or break the deal. You probably will not find pricing online because contracting work is often unique to the building and location. The contractor may indicate online, though, that a deposit is required. We found only one contractor website that indicated there was a deposit (it was $500). TIP: Do not pay a deposit of more than 1/3 of the contractor price up front. See link to our website.
  • Registration Numbers. 70% of the websites did not have the contractor’s registration number displayed.
  • Check Registration. Despite the lack of registration information on websites, we did find that most were actually registered. Home Improvement Contractors are required by law to apply for and obtain a certificate of registration with our office. You can find registration information and complaint history on our website.
  • Check The Contractor’s Name. Some contractors did not put the name of the entity that is registered on the website. Homeowners should know what entity they are doing business with—a contractor can be a corporation, a non-corporate company, an individual person, or any entity doing business under another name (known as a “d/b/a” or “doing business as”). Ensure the name on the contract is the same as the name of the entity that is registered.
  • Physical Location. Some websites did not list the town in which the contractor is located. Homeowners should make sure they know and can match the physical location and business address of the contractor if an issue arises.
  • “Licensed and Insured.” Many contractor websites suggest that they are “licensed and insured.” In addition to checking the registration number, also contact the Office of Public Safety and Inspections to ensure the contractor has a Construction Supervisor Licensure (CSL) if necessary. Also, ask the contractor to provide the name of the insurance company and what the insurance covers—is it just workers’ compensation insurance, or does it cover other liability such as damage to your home?
  • Most products such as roofing materials come with warranties, but only if they are installed properly. Some contractor websites indicate that the contractor offers warranties on labor, but get clarification in writing about the terms of the warranty.
  • Project Terminology and Details. Some contractors are generous with information about what various projects typically entail, including terminology. You should learn the project terminology and aspects of the job so you know what questions to ask contractors when you are seeking quotes for the job. You want to know the scope of work that you and the contractor have agreed upon.
  • Testimonials and References. Many contractor websites give testimonials of past work. You can ask for additional references. Ensure you actually follow up with checking those references. Visit and try to view the previous jobs of the contractor if possible.

For more information on hiring a contractor, visit our website at www.mass.gov/homeimprovement or contact our consumer hotline at 617-973-8787 or contact us online.

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