Help Understanding and Complying With Home Improvement Contractor Laws
Many remodeling contractors may be operating their businesses illegally without even knowing it. In addition to construction supervisor licensing, most states now have some type of licensing or registration requirements for contractors who offer and or perform home improvement work. Home improvement contractor licensing and regulations govern how contractors conduct business, not how they build or renovate at the job site. Fines and penalties for lack of compliance can be substantial, including losing your right to conduct business. The specific details of home improvement contractor laws and regulations are different from state to state, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re aware of and understand requirements where you work.
What states have Home Improvement Contractor Licensing requirements?
Click here for an interactive map where you can find out. You or your remodeling customers can also use the map to check to see if a specific contractor is licensed.
Currently there are about 26,000 Registered Home Improvement Contractors in Massachusetts.
Recently the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation ("OCABR") released a series of five short videos to help Massachusetts home improvement contractors become aware of and learn how to comply with the Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor Registration law. The videos are well done and are targeted to help Massachusetts contractors, but a lot of the information shared in the videos could also be very helpful for contractors doing businesses in other states as well. Each video covers a topic that is regulated in some way or another by any state's home improvement regulations.
At about 17 minutes of total time, it’s worth your time to watch all five videos even if your business is not in Massachusetts.
The first 45 seconds of each video is an introduction and is just about the same, so after watching the first video in full you can probably skip ahead in the other four.
Basic Rules for Home Improvement Contractors:
Video #1: Registration
Video #2: Contract Content & Payment Terms
Video #3: Advertising & Estimating
Video #4: Performance of the Contract
Video #5: Arbitration & Enforcement
In addition to being an industry representative in the videos, I was also pleased to be able to offer input on the script. Before, during and after the filming I worked closely with Steven J. Zuilkowski, Hearing Officer for the Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation. During the filming I also worked with Jacqueline F. Chandler, HIC Program Coordinator. Both demonstrated they were genuinely interested in helping contractors comply with the regulations and were seeking input to help ensure the videos served the intended purpose. Recently Steve shared with me that the OCABR now also has a blog were he has written several posts for contractors regarding help interpreting the HIC regulations, check it out here.
I want to thank Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and the OCABR for doing these videos to help contractors. It was an honor for me to be asked to participate in the project and I had some fun too!
Steven J. Zuilkowski
Jacqueline F. Chandler