Guidelines and Information for Registered Contractors

The Home Improvement Contractor Registration Program was established by Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 142A (the Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractors Act). The law outlines the parameters for registration and empowers the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation to administer the program. The law is codified as a Code of Massachusetts Regulation (201 CMR 18.00).

Who must register? 
All persons, individuals, proprietorships, partnerships, corporations that solicit, bid on, or perform residential contracting as a contractor or subcontractor on an existing one to four unit owner-occupied residential building.

Registration must be renewed every TWO years. The application form can be found online at: www.mass.gov/consumer, or by contacting the office.

 

Who is exempt from registration?

  • Workers who work for a contractor or subcontractor for a wage;
  • All licensed professionals or tradesmen who take an exam as a condition of their licensure when they are working within the scope of their license, such as architects, electricians, plumbers but NOT Construction supervisors licensed by the BBRS.;
  • the Commonwealth or its subdivisions;
  • Schools offering vocational education courses or training in home construction or improvement;
  • Owners doing their own renovations;
  • Persons who perform any bona-fide single job costing $1,000.00 (one thousand dollars) or under.
  • Any contractor or subcontractor who works on one residential contracting project or undertaking, by one or more contracts, where the total price to the owner is less than $500, provided, however, that the contract is not in an amount less than $500 for the purpose of evading c. 142A;
  • Part time contractors or subcontractors whose gross revenue in the previous 12 months was less than $5,000;
  • Persons enrolled as full-time students for last and next academic term and 2/3 of whose employees are so enrolled and whose gross revenue is anticipated to be or has been under $5,000;
  • Persons dealing in the sale of goods or materials who neither arrange to perform, nor perform directly or indirectly any work or labor in connection with the installation of or application of the goods or materials;
  • Electricians, plumbers, architects or any other persons who are required by law to attain standards of competency or experience (take a test, and/or have experience) in order to obtain that license -- and who are working exclusively within the scope of that (active) license. This exception does NOT apply to Construction Supervisor Licensees, who must also obtain a Home Improvement Contractor registration in order to perform residential contracting work;
  • Any individual who performs construction-related labor or services for a home improvement contractor or subcontractor, for wages or salary and who does not act in the capacity of a home improvement contractor or subcontractor;
  • Any person acting as a contractor or subcontractor who is enrolled as a full-time student in a secondary school or college with degree granting authority from the government of the state in which the school is located, enrolled for the preceding and next academic term in the same or equivalent school, and provided that at least 2/3 of whose employees are also so enrolled, and whose gross revenues are, or are anticipated to be, less than $5000 from residential contracting work;
  • Persons who install central heating, A/C systems, energy conservation devices, provide conservation services on behalf of a public utility, landscaping, interior painting, paper hanging, finished floor covering, tile, fencing, free standing masonry walls, above-ground swimming pools, shutters, awnings, patios, driveways.

What work is covered?

Residential contracting is defined as:

"the reconstruction, alteration, renovation, repair, modernization, conversion, improvement, removal, demolition or construction of an addition to any pre-existing building containing at least one but not more than four dwelling units, which building thereof is used or designed to be used as a residence or dwelling unit, or to structures which are adjacent to such residence or building."

Any work you do involving this description requires that you have a Home Improvement Contractor registration, unless the work or your status as described in the exemptions allows you not to be registered.

Do I need a written contract?

All agreements with owners for work exceeding $1000.00(one thousand dollars) MUST have a written contract. The Contract must contain certain provisions detailed here.  Click here pdf format of Sample Contract to view a sample contract.

Fees for Registration

The fee is structured in two parts (A registration fee and a mandatory contribution to the Guaranty Fund) and must be paid by separate CERTIFIED CHECK, MONEY ORDER or CREDIT CARD (the Office of Consumer Affairs does not accept cash or personal checks.).
 

Fee Type

Fee

Renewal Period

Registration Fee

$150

Two Years

Guaranty Fund Contribution0-3 employees

$100

One time fee upon initial registration*
4-10 employees

$200

11-30 employees

$300

More than 30 employees

$500

* Additional contributions may be assessed at a future date by the Program Director

What is the Guaranty Fund?

The Guaranty Fund is a fund maintained by the Commonwealth, supported by registrant contributions. After certain conditions are met, any eligible owner whose contractor violates a provision of the law may make a claim to the Guaranty Fund for actual losses up to $10,000, as required by law. The responsible contractor must repay the fund for these payments or else risk suspension, revocation of registration, administrative penalties and fines, and further prosecution by the Attorney General’s office.

What are some of the key provisions of the Law?

Any contract with an owner above $1,000 must be in writing and must contain certain required provisions as specified in the law.

Building permits, contracts, and advertising for residential contracting must contain the registration number of the contractor.        

Contractors/subcontractor is responsible for conduct of employees, salespersons and subcontractors within the scope of their contract with the owner.

All building permits shall clearly state that persons contracting with unregistered contractors do not have access to the Guaranty Fund.

Provisions can be made in the contract for contractors to use alternative dispute resolution through a private arbitration services program approved by the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.

Action to enforce provisions of this law or to seek damages can be brought in superior court, district court or in aa small claims court.

Contractors/subcontractors cannot act as mortgage brokers or represent lenders.

Responsibilities of Owners

Owners not using registered contractors or obtaining their own permits cannot receive payment from the Guaranty Fund.

Owners must have a court or arbitrator judgment and have made diligent efforts to collect damages before a claim can be made against the Guaranty Fund.

The maximum award from the fund is the lesser of the actual damages or $10,000 for any one job and up to $75,000 against any one contractor.

Owners MUST have a written contract for work over $1,000.