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Remodeling and making improvements to your home can be an overwhelming project. Fortunately, Massachusetts law offers protections to those hiring outside help when renovating through the Home Improvement Contractor (HIC) Registration Program.

The Home Improvement Contractor law is important to both contractors and consumers—contractors must be registered to perform work on any owner-occupied, single-family or owner-occupied, multi-family home, up to 4 units; consumers must be sure to verify that their contractor is registered before hiring him or her in order to be protected by the Home Improvement Contractor Law.

This law sets up an arbitration program for resolving disputes between homeowners and registered contractors and establishes a Guaranty Fund that can compensate consumers up to $10,000 for unpaid judgements against registered home improvement contractors.

 

As a registered Home Improvement Contractor, you must post your registration number on all advertisements, including: signs or lettering on your vehicle, signs placed on a customer’s property, ads placed in newspapers, telephone directories, magazines and websites. In addition, the contractor registration number must be listed on all building permits and contracts.

All work costing over $1,000 requires you to give the homeowner a written contract. But it is best practice to have a contract for any work, regardless of the amount.

Keep in mind, HIC Registrations must be renewed every two years.

 

As a consumer, you must be wary of who you chose to hire for home renovations or improvements.  When choosing a contractor, it is important to interview several potential hires. Always contact references and ask to see their past work. Be wary of a contractor whose bid seems very low—ask them why it is so low. Visit our website to check the registration status of a contractor. Ultimately, it is important to trust your instincts. Do not hire someone with whom you are uncomfortable.

Before beginning your project, do some research:

  • Find out how a project like yours is typically done.
  • Become familiar with the vocabulary.
  • Think about the design features and materials you will want.
  • Talk to your local building department about the building-related permits your project will need, and verify that your contractor has obtained those permits.

 

If something goes wrong while working with a home improvement contractor, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and learn your options, including mediation, arbitration and court action. Our Office can also provide information on how to  file a complaint against a home improvement contractor.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs 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 is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education.

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