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How to utilize the state’s contractor dispute resolution program

On Behalf of | Oct 6, 2021 | Construction Litigation

Contractor disputes happen from time to time during construction projects, which may result in a case going through the Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor Arbitration program. The contractor and homeowners both have rights as long as it’s a registered contractor.

Rights during a contractor dispute

Under construction law, homeowners have the right to send a dispute with a contractor to arbitration. During the arbitration, the homeowner and contractor will show evidence of their case to an impartial arbitrator. The arbitrator resolves the issue with a legally binding decision after hearing all the evidence.

Is arbitration the right move?

Homeowners should think about the dispute before deciding on a courtroom or arbitration. A homeowner can seek arbitration with the Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor Arbitration Program. There are a few questions that need to be true to prove eligibility for arbitration:

  • Was there a written contract for the job?
  • Was the contractor registered during the job?
  • Was the work done on a pre-existing primary residence?

If all of the questions are not true, the homeowner doesn’t qualify for arbitration in Massachusetts. Under construction law, arbitrators can reward you monetary damages or have the contractor fix or replace their work. Monetary damages can include arbitration fees, contract damages and consequential damages. The Home Improvement Contractor Guaranty Fund can pay the homeowner if the contractor can’t.

How is an arbitrator chosen?

Under construction law, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation will select an arbitrator. All arbitrators have professional experience in the construction field. Neither party has a say of who the arbitrator is, but the arbitrator must be transparent about any personal contracting work or disputes.

To utilize the program, homeowners and contractors should understand construction law in Massachusetts. Arbitration is an option during a dispute but not the only option. Either party can file a counterclaim up to 10 days after the arbitration.