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  • Writer's pictureJake Schneider

Massachusetts Construction Law: What you need to know

Construction law encompasses many laws, regulations, and codes that apply to every construction project. Many projects require licenses or permits from local planning and other authorities. Understanding fundamental construction law is essential for anyone within the industry or homeowners hiring new contractors.

This article covers the basics of Massachusetts construction law, including licensing requirements, inspection protocols, and enforcement options. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of laws that govern construction projects in Massachusetts and common code violations that everyone should watch out for.

How Long Does A Builder Have To Warranty A House?

The warranty period that a builder must give to the owner of a new home is typically one year from the completion of construction. This means that if there are any problems with the house, the builder has up to one year after it is completed to remedy or replace the item or service.

What Are The Obligations Of A Contractor?

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

What are considered to be violations of the HIC Rules and Regulations?

The following list identifies violations of M.G.L. c. 142A, Section 17 and 201 CMR 18.00:

  1. Operating without a certificate of registration issued by the administrator;

  2. Abandoning or failing to perform, without justification, any contract or project engaged in or undertaken by a registered contractor or subcontractor, or deviating from or disregarding plans or specifications in any material respect without the consent of the owner;

  3. Failing to credit the owner for any payment they have made to the contractor or his salesperson in connection with a residential contracting transaction;

  4. Making any material misrepresentation in the procurement of a contract by making any false promise of a characteristic likely to influence, persuade or induce the procurement of a contract;

  5. Knowingly contracting beyond the scope of the registration as a contractor or subcontractor;

  6. Acting directly, regardless of the receipt or the expectation of receipt of compensation or gain from the mortgage lender, in connection with a residential contracting transaction by preparing, offering, or negotiating or attempting to or agreeing to prepare, arrange, offer or negotiate a mortgage loan on behalf of a mortgage lender;

  7. Acting as a mortgage broker or agent for any mortgage lender;

  8. Publishing, directly or indirectly, any advertisement relating to home construction or home improvements which does not contain the contractor's or subcontractor's certificate of registration number or which does contain an assertion, representation, or statement of fact which is false, deceptive, or misleading;

  9. Advertising in any manner that a registrant is registered under this chapter unless the advertisement includes an accurate reference to the contractor's or subcontractor's certificate of registration;

  10. Violations of the building laws of the Commonwealth or of any political subdivision thereof;

  11. Misrepresenting a material fact by an applicant in obtaining a certificate of registration;

  12. Failing to notify the administrator of any change of trade name or address as required by Section 13;

  13. Conducting a residential contracting business in any name other than the one in which a contractor or subcontractor is registered;

  14. Failing to pay for materials or services rendered in connection with his operating as a contractor or subcontractor where he has received sufficient funds as payment for the particular construction work, project or operation for which the services or materials were rendered or purchased;

  15. Failing to comply with any order, demand or requirement lawfully made by the administrator or fund administrator under and within the authority of this chapter;

  16. Demanding or receiving payment in violation of clause (6) of paragraph (a) of section two which states: "a time schedule of payments to be made under said contract and the amount of each payment stated in dollars, including all finance charges. Any deposit required under the contract to be paid in advance of the commencement of work under said contract shall not exceed the greater of one-third of the total contract price or the actual cost of any materials or equipment of a special order or custom made nature, which must be ordered in advance of the commencement of work, in order to assure that the project will proceed on schedule. No final payment shall be demanded until the contract is completed to the satisfaction of the parties thereto;"

  17. Violating any other provision of M.G.L. Chapter 142A.

Are you currently looking for more information on Construction Law? Contact us at TE Law Offices today to discuss your case.

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