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MA Fines, Exposes Contractors

Friday, August 30, 2013

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Adding a dose of public shame to its enforcement toolbox, Massachusetts has begun announcing the names of home-improvement contractors caught in the state's disciplinary net.

In the first wave, the state has identified four contractors fined thousands of dollars for deviating from project plans without the homeowner's consent, contracting beyond the scope of their registration, and failing to maintain proper licenses, among other allegations.

The state’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations announced the enforcement actions Aug. 20, adding that it had run a small sting operation to nab unlicensed contractors.

NARI
www.nari.org

The Office of Consumer Affairs worked with the Eastern Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry to orchestrate a home improvement contractor sting June 12 in central Massachusetts.

Redacted administrative enforcement documents in each case are available by clicking on the contractor names below.

4 Contractor Cases

Richard Smith, of Brockton, MA, will pay a $2,250 fine and have his home-improvement contracting registration suspended for three months, according to a final hearing order issued by the state agency on June 14.

Smith’s suspension and fine resulted from a determination that he:

  • Failed to perform a homeowner’s project without justification;
  • Made a material misrepresentation in the procurement of a contract;
  • Contracted for electrical work beyond the scope of his registration;
  • Requested a deposit greater than one-third of the contract price from the homeowner; and
  • Failed to provide the homeowner with a written contract for residential contracting services exceeding $1,000. 

A local newspaper reported that the contractor had been hired to make a home handicap accessible. When the project went on for weeks past the tight deadline, the homeowner canceled the project and filed a complaint with the state.

Ambrosi Construction LLC, of West Newton, MA, was fined $300, according to a final hearing order issued July 2.

The contractor was found to have “materially deviated from project plans without having the homeowner’s consent.”

Owner Filippo Ambrosi admitted at an administrative hearing that he had installed a two-ply structural roof beam without waiting for the design architect to clarify an ambiguity in the project plans, the agency said.

Ambrosi Construction
www.ambrosiconstructionllc.com

Founded in1983, Ambrosi Construction says it handles "any size job from small renovations to full scale construction." The company was fined $300 by the Office of Consumer Affairs.

The installation resulted in the homeowner’s receipt of a violation notice from the local building department, according to the agency.

Founded in 1983, Ambrosi Construction provides an array of construction services in the Greater Boston area,  including custom-built homes, multi-level additions, and kitchen and bathroom renovations, according to its website.

MasonWorks LLC, of Melrose, MA, was assessed a $100 fine, according to a July 8 final hearing order issued by the agency.

The agency determined that MasonWorks “impermissibly requested a final payment before all parties to the residential contract were satisfied.” 

The contractor was found to have submitted an invoice that itemized cost for work completed in addition to work expected to be completed in the weeks subsequent to the invoice date. Evidence showed that the invoice was presented to the homeowners at least one month before the final inspection date while discussions relating to the contractor’s workmanship were ongoing, the Office of Consumer Affairs noted.

MasonWorks is a small family-owned company that specializes in design and construction of all types of stone and brick patios, walls and walkways, according to its website.

Michael Miller, of Upton, MA, was fined $3,000, according to a July 19 final hearing order issued by the Office of Consumer Affairs. 

Miller operated as a home-improvement contractor without a certificate of registration and executed a residential services contract that did not contain legally required terms, according to the agency.

Miller did not attend the hearing.  However, evidence showed that he accepted a $600 payment from a homeowner in exchange for a promise to install a metal roof and that he did not possess a Home Improvement Contractor registration number at any relevant time.

Undercover Sting

The agency, working with the Eastern Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, executed a home improvement contractor sting on June 12 in central Massachusetts. 

In Massachusetts, it is against the law to operate as a home improvement contractor by performing work or advertising to perform work without first obtaining an HIC registration. Home improvement contractors must list their registered business name and registration number in all advertisements, including newspapers ads, lawn signs, and websites. Violations can subject contractors to fines and reprimands.

Consumer Affairs brochure
www.mass.gov

The agency provides homeowners with advice on how to hire contractors, including how to check that they are currently registered.

Investigators identified home improvement contractors who unlawfully advertised in local newspapers and Craigslist.

Undercover Consumer Affairs officials posing as homeowners invited the contractors to a home to perform roofing, decking, and window replacement. As the contractors inspected the home, the officials asked if the contractors held a Home Improvement Contractor Registration.

Two of the three contractors who visited the home admitted they were not registered. The third was registered, though he advertised a business name that was different than his registered trade name, in violation of state law, according to the agency.

The contractors did not have any previous disciplinary history.

According to the agency, it gave the unregistered contractors applications to obtain an HIC registration and brochures explaining the registration and advertising requirements under the state law. 

The office said it would monitor the contractors' future compliance and ensure they join the ranks of the more than 25,000 home-improvement contractors registered in the state.

   

Tagged categories: Business matters; Contractors; Enforcement; Government; Home builders; Regulations; Remodeling; Renovation; Residential contractors

Comment from Gregory Stoner, (9/1/2013, 11:23 AM)

Good. If you are going to have rules you should enforce them. I'm not sure the fines were substantial enough. The fines should at least pay for the action. I would be hard pressed to believe that there were no costs to the system above and beyond the fines.


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