Is My Residential Contractor a “Residential Contractor”?
Massachusetts regulates the practice of “residential contracting” under the Home Improvement Contractor Act, G.L. c. 142A. There are licensing and contracting requirements as well as significant penalties for residential contractors who engage in certain prohibited acts, such as abandoning the project, deviating from plans and specifications without the owner’s consent, or violating any state or local building code, among other things. The penalties can include personal liability for the individual designated by the contracting company to be responsible for its work as well as the potential for multiple damages and attorneys’ fees.
But just because a contractor worked on your home does not mean it is a “residential contractor” for purposes of the Act. There are a number of trades that are exempt from the Act, including any contractors who work exclusively as landscapers, painters, and driveway installers to name a few. Even a general contractor may not be considered a “residential contractor” if the project consisted of the building of new construction because the Act applies only to those engaged in work on pre-existing owner occupied buildings or their adjacent structures. In short, the type and scope of work and the particular circumstances of your project will dictate whether the Act will apply. A homeowner or contractor who find themselves in a dispute with the other concerning a home construction project are well advised to seek legal counsel who can navigate the requirements of the Act and its applicability to your particular project.