Choosing a Home Improvement Contractor

Legal minute with Cooley Shrair

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (Mass Appeal) –  What should homeowners be aware of when choosing a contractor for their home improvement project? Attorney Shawn Willis from the Law Offices of Cooley Shrair in Springfield shared more.

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What should homeowners be aware of when choosing a contractor for their home improvement project?
The first thing I would suggest is that you seek out multiple estimates for the project and interview at least 3 contractors before deciding on one. When doing this, you should request the Home Improvement Contractor registration number from each contractor. Every home improvement contractor in Massachusetts must be registered with the Office of Consumer Affairs and business Regulation. If anyone tells you they are exempt, they’re lying.

You can look up their registration number on the OCA website to make sure they are in good standing.
The OCA also runs an arbitration program to resolve disputes between registered contractors and homeowners. You can also search their website to view any arbitration history the contractors may have. This can be helpful because you may find that the contractor has a history of disputes with homeowners, which is a clear warning sign.

What should a homeowner expect to find in an estimate?
First, I recommend that a homeowner should be present when the contractor comes to the home to do the estimate. That way you can be sure they are being thorough. You do not want them to underestimate the job, it will cost you much more later on. Make sure the estimates are in writing and describe all of the work to be done. There should also be a definite price for all of the necessary materials and labor. It should look very much like a competed contract. Make sure the contractor agrees to acquire all the necessary permits and ask the contractor for an Insurance coverage sheet and request that you are place on the policy as an “additional insured”

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