Guidelines and Information for Contractors

If you want to learn more information about becoming a home improvement contractor, you’re in the right place.

Who needs to register as a home improvement contractor?

Any one, or any company, that solicits, bids on, or performs residential contracting as a contractor or subcontractor on an existing one to four unit owner-occupied primary residence in Massachusetts.

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How do I know if the work I perform is "residential contracting?"

Residential contracting is defined in the law 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."

If the work you do fits this description then you need to be registered unless you fall into an exempted category. 

Who is exempt?

  • Workers who do construction-related labor or services for a home improvement contractor or subcontractor for wages or salary but who are not doing the job of a home improvement contractor or subcontractor
  • Licensed professionals or tradesmen, such as electricians, plumbers, or architects, who take an exam in order to obtain their license and who are working within the scope of their 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.
  • The Commonwealth or its subdivisions
  • Schools offering vocational education courses or training in home construction or improvement
  • 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
  • Owners doing their own renovations
  • Persons who perform any bona-fide single job costing $1,000 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
  • Part time contractors or subcontractors whose gross revenue in the previous 12 months was less than $5,000
  • People who sell goods or materials relating to construction 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
  • People 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, driveway

Why do I need to register?

Registered contractors must follow certain rules regarding contracts, payments, advertising, business practices, etc. These laws and regulations provide standards throughout the industry and provide protections for homeowners from being taken advantage of by a bad contractor. 

For instance:

  • Any contract with an owner for work above $1,000 must have a written contract 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. In order to protect the integrity of your business, our Office recommends that HIC registrants add language to their websites or advertisements that warn consumers not to engage with fraudulent companies and imposters. For instance, explicitly stating “this is the official website” on your page will help customers avoid hiring phony contractors that may be impersonating your business.
  • A contractor or subcontractor is responsible for the 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, the district court or in a small claims court
  • Contractors/subcontractors cannot act as mortgage brokers or represent lenders

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Is there a fee for registration?

Yes. All contractors, including Construction Supervisor Licensees who are applying for a HIC Registration must pay a registration fee of $150, and a Guaranty Fund fee. You must renew your registration every 2 years and pay a renewal fee of $100.

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