Can hiring a contractor for a remodeling project put you at great risk? Absolutely — if you hire the wrong one.
One way Massachusetts tries to protect homeowners is Home Improvement Contractor (HIC) registration. As explained on the state website: “The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation regulates the registration of contractors performing improvements or renovations on detached one and two family homes. Prior to performing work on such homes, a contractor must be registered as a Home Improvement Contractor.”
For most residential projects, a contractor must also be licensed as a construction supervisor by the State Board of Building Regulations and Standards. The Construction Supervisor License (CSL) requires that candidates have at least “three years of experience in building construction or design” before taking the state exam. Then they must pass the exam, which tests “knowledge of the building code and general construction practices.”
A licensed construction supervisor must also meet continuing education requirements every two years.
Proceed with Caution
Here’s why HIC registration should matter to you: A contractor
who isn’t HIC-registered cannot pull his own building permit
with the building department — and thus cannot legally complete
your project. There’s also a good chance he doesn’t carry workers’
compensation or general liability insurance. He might not have a
Homeowners who pull their own permit are making a dangerous
choice. If the contractor in fact doesn’t carry workers’ comp or
general liability, a worker who gets injured on the job could sue
And what happens if neither you nor the contractor bothers pulling
a permit? Suppose you have some electrical work done. The work
is never inspected, and an electrical fi re burns down your home six
months later. In this case, your home insurance won’t cover the
Homeowners and contractors are most likely to try to cut corners
with attic or basement renovations. Don’t fall into this trap.
Whether it’s an attic, basement or other type of project, beware
the contractor who is hesitant or unwilling to pull his own permit.
It might very well mean he doesn’t meet the standards of the HIC
program or doesn’t have a CSL.
For more details on HIC registration, visit