Home Improvement Tips
This document is intended to provide consumers with information regarding a specific topic. It is not meant to provide comprehensive information. For further questions, please contact the Consumer Affairs Division at (617) 635-3834.
Many consumers jump into a home improvement project before completing all the necessary research. Complete your homework before starting any home work! Consult with a contractor before beginning any section of the work if a contractor is to be involved. Check the contractor's references before signing any contracts. Be sure to check with the Board of Building Regulations and Standards (617) 727-8598 before beginning any work.
Always have a contract between the consumer and the contractor. The contract protects you from surprises. Be sure to read the contract in full before signing! All contracts should include:
Identification of a Contractor including Registration #
Provision of "extras"
Detailed Lists of Materials
Start / Completion dates
A Permit Notice
A 3-day Cancellation Notice
The Guaranty Fund
The fund was established to protect homeowners from fraudulent contractors and home improvement errors. Details of the Fund are included below. However, consumer should note that the Guaranty Fund is only available if the contractor obtains the building permit! For more info on the Guaranty Fund contact the Consumer Affairs Hotline at 1-888-283-3757.
To be eligible for payment from the Fund:
There must be a contract for the work that was done and it must be signed.
The contractor must be registered with the Board of Building Registration and Standards at the time of the contract.
The contractor secured the permit.
The contract was for 1-4 family owner occupied residence in MA.
A court judgement in favor of the homeowner has been issued.
An application to the Guaranty Fund was filed within six months of judgement.
Dispute Resolution Options
What if something goes wrong with your home improvement job? As a Massachusetts consumer you have many options. These are detailed below.
Mediation - call the Division of Consumer Affairs to assist with mediating your dispute at (617) 635-3834.
Arbitration - consumer can take advantage of the Home Improvement Arbitration Program. This program resolves disputes through arbitration. The following criteria must be met to use this program: there must be a written and signed contract, the contractor must be registered at the time of the contract, the work was done on a 1-4 family, owner occupied, primary residence in Massachusetts. The consumer must pay a $50 non-refundable processing fee within two years of signing the contract to apply for this program. For an application contact the Division of Consumer Affairs at (617) 635-3834
Court Action - You may also pursue your claim through the court system. If your claim is $2,000 and under you may file at small claims court. If the dispute totals more than $2,000, a chapter 93A letter must be written before you may file a civil suit for damages or breach of contract. For more information contact the Division of Consumer Affairs.