Hidden Illegal Contractors: How to Know Who to Trust

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Not all contractors are actually who they claim to be. Often, unlicensed contractors will strip you of your money and leave you with an unanticipated lack of home improvement. Recently, the Attorney General pinned down an unlicensed contractor right here in Massachusetts.

A man named Kyle Buckminster from South Grafton, Massachusetts was found to be operating illegally as an unlicensed contractor. He performed unlawful construction and renovations and even left homes without completing his project.

Contractors are required to register with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations in order to legally work on homes that house 1-4 families. Unregistered contractors find ways to slip past the law and work for unknowing homeowners.

Buckminster’s tactic was to work under a constantly changing name. He claimed to be a part of companies such as: Buckminster Construction, Kyle Buckminster, Fine Custom Carpentry and Finishing, Mid-Cape Construction, Blue Ocean Builders, and First Commonwealth Builders. Do not let a name fool you—just because a contractor sounds official does not mean that they are.

Buckminster’s illegal actions landed him with a debt of over $110,000 to compensate for his errors. Buckminster’s work left homes incomplete, yet he overcharged his customers by thousands of dollars. He had his license revoked back in 2000, yet continued to work illegally. Buckminster is now banned from performing any contracting work anywhere in the state of Massachusetts.

Attorney General Coakley stated: “unlicensed home contracting work takes away business from honest contractors and puts homeowners at risk.” She also urges homeowners to “do their homework” before choosing a contractor.

Being aware of these scams is the first step. Next, make sure you choose a contractor with all of the legal credentials along with a trusted history. Asking your contractor questions is a good idea to solidify your trust in their work.

Homeowners often hire the cheapest contractor, but do not consider the fact that these contractors are generally unlicensed, unregistered, and uninsured. Follow these tips to ensure that the contractor you hire is safe and trustworthy. If you have any questions, let us know!

Tips for hiring a contractor:

  • Never hire an unregistered contractor.
  • Never hire a contractor who asks you to pull the permit.
  • Never hire a contractor who does not provide a certificate of insurance for general liability and workers’ compensation.
  • Never hire a contractor who asks for more than 1/3 down.
  • Check in with the contractor’s references.
  • Ask to see a current or previous project that the contractor worked on.
  • Never hire a contractor who does not provide a clearly written contract with ALL scope of work and selections. In Mass the contract must include the state mandated clauses listed on the OCABR website.
  • Never hire a contractor who does not provide a fixed priced for all work. Time and material or cost plus contracts are illegal in Massachusetts.