For Immediate Release - February 13, 2015

Consumers Should Use Registered and Licensed Professionals for Snow Damage Repairs

With over six feet of snow fallen across Massachusetts and more forecasted for this weekend, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation encourages homeowners to hire licensed and registered professionals to make repairs on storm-affected property.

Individuals offering snow, ice, and tree removal services do NOT need to be licensed or registered as a home improvement contractor. However, make sure that all professionals working on or in your home are properly insured. Ask for documentation of proof of coverage before agreeing to hire the individual or company. Check with the Better Business Bureau or other consumer-rating websites to see if the company or individual has any complaints.

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation registers Home Improvement Contractors (HIC), and the Division of Professional Licensure licenses electricians, plumbers, and sheet metal workers. Both agencies offer online systems to check a licensee’s status. Consumers are encouraged to check a registration or license before hiring a contractor or tradesman to do work. Some types of work such as siding, insulation, and plastering require the contractor to hold a Construction Supervisor’s License (CSL) through the Department of Public Safety. Other kinds of work, such as minor roof or gutter repairs and foundation fixes require the contractor to have Home Improvement Contract registration. The Department of Public Safety has produced this handy checklist for jobs requiring an HIC, CSL, or both. Check with your local building official to see whether the job requires a building permit or inspection.

When having any work done it is a good idea to always get a proposal for any repairs in writing and to pay no more than one-third of the cost up-front. Make sure you know when the contractors will be at your home, and when the job is expected to be completed.

Contractor registrations and histories can be looked up online at http://services.oca.state.ma.us/hic/licenseelist.aspx. Electricians, plumbers and other professional licenses can be checked at http://license.reg.state.ma.us/public/licque.asp?color=blue.

If you would like to file a complaint against a Home Improvement Contractor, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation at 617-973-8700 or fill out a complaint form.

The Division of Professional Licensure (DPL) is a regulatory agency within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. The agency is responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance and the integrity of the licensing process for approximately 370,000 licensees in trades and professions under the jurisdiction of 30 boards of registration. Follow DPL on Twitter @Mass Consumer.

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education, and also works to ensure that the businesses its agencies regulate treat all Massachusetts consumers fairly. Follow the Office at its blog, on Facebook and on Twitter @Mass_Consumer.

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