Thinking about hiring a contractor to work on your home?
Always ask for a detailed written construction contract, even for small projects. It will protect you and help ensure that you and the contractor understand the scope of the job and the price.
Massachusetts State law requires that home improvement construction contracts over $1,000 be in writing. If contractors violate this provision, their registration may be suspended or revoked, and they can be fined or face criminal prosecution.
Be sure the contract contains:
1. The identification of the contractor, including the contractor’s registration number;
2. Total price of the work;
3. The payment schedule;
4. A provision for changes or “extras”;
5. A detailed list of specifications/materials;
6. Start and completion dates;
7. A copy of the contractor’s insurance;
8. A permit notice warning you that if you secure your own building permit or deal with unregistered contractors, you will not be eligible for the Guaranty Fund;
9. A 3-day cancellation notice, informing you of your right to cancel your contract if you signed the agreement in your home, or at a place other than at the contractor’s office or business; and
10. Other details particular to your job especially relating to job site access and safety of non-workers.
Be sure the contractor obtains the building permit.
If you apply for the permit, you may not be eligible for compensation from the Guaranty Fund.
A word on deposits:
By law, the contractor cannot collect more than one-third of the cost of the contract in advance, unless special order materials are needed.
Breaking down the contract:
The law requires the following FOURTEEN items to be included in any contract between a homeowner and a registered home improvement contractor for home improvement work subject to MGL c. 142A: Click here to see them.
For more information on Home Improvement Contracting, click here.
~ concord carpenter
Source: Mass.gov/Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation