How you enter into a home improvement contract matters. While some may think that a wink and a handshake is sufficient when negotiating a contract for home improvement work, the Home Improvement Contractor Law (HIC) requires that there be a written contract between contractor and homeowner for jobs costing over $1,000. Best practice suggests having a written contract for every job, every time! Having a detailed written contract signed and dated by both parties is crucial to formalizing the terms of the agreement and protects both parties should problems arise.
The HIC Law outlines what must be included in home improvement contracts. Before you sign, make sure your contract passes the test by meeting the criteria below. Does it include:
Note: an initial deposit cannot exceed one-third of the total price and final payment cannot be demanded until the contract is completed to both parties’ satisfaction. No contract can contain an acceleration clause that would require any part or all of the balance not yet due to be declared due and payable because the contractor deems himself to be insecure.
Both homeowners and contractors are responsible for ensuring that home improvement contracts are accurate and satisfactory. Failing to do so could result in administrative fines or the revocation of registration for contractors. For homeowners, having an incomplete contract, or no contract at all, could prohibit them from being eligible for the Home Improvement Arbitration Program and the Guaranty Fund.
For more information about the required contract terms in a home improvement contract or to download a sample contract, visit our website.
If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, Data Privacy Law, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.