How to Hire a Good Carpenter in Boston
Hiring a competent carpenter for your home improvement and remodeling projects in Boston not only gives you value for your money, but it also improves the look of your home and eventually its market worth. In addition, the finishing touches a competent carpenter adds to your home's interior and exterior can boost its curb appeal, resulting in a 7% increase in its value when compared to other properties with uninviting features.
You may receive suggestions for competent carpenters in your region by asking friends, family, and even other home improvement and remodeling professionals. However, it is important to ensure that any carpenter you engage is properly licensed and equipped to complete the project. Asking the following questions will help to determine if the recommended carpenter is the best fit for your project:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Carpenter in the City of Boston?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Carpenters in the City of Boston?
- Do You Comply with the City of Boston Building Code for Carpentry Work?
- Will You Get the Home Improvement Permits as Required by the City of Boston Code?
- What Kind of Carpentry Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Carpenters in the City of Boston?
Are You Licensed to Practice as a Carpenter in the City of Boston?
The licensing requirements for carpenters in Boston are generally dependent on the scope of the services that the carpenter is expected to provide. For example, carpenters that wish to work on projects that are considered regular property repairs are simply required to complete a Home Improvement Contractor Registration (HIC) process with the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. On the other hand, carpenters that wish to handle projects that involve structural work on a property are required to obtain an appropriate Construction Supervisor License (CSL) from the Massachusetts Office of Public Safety and Inspections (OPSI). Failure to obtain the appropriate license before providing any carpentry service is punishable by a fine of not more than $2,000, imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.
Examinations are generally not required to complete the Home Improvement Contractor registration process. However, interested carpenters that wish to obtain a Construction Supervisor License (CSL) must first determine the specific type of license required for the scope of carpentry services they offer and also have three years of experience in building construction or design. If the minimum requirement stated above is met, these carpenters can proceed to fill and submit a candidate exam registration form, and then contact the OPSI's Division of Occupational Licensure at (800) 813-6671 to schedule an exam date. After an exam date has been scheduled, interested carpenters can proceed to take the exams and mail the score report to the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards.
For more information on how to apply for a Construction Supervisor License (CSL), contact the Massachusetts OPSI's Division of Occupational Licensure either via phone number (800) 813-6671 or in-person at the following address:
- 1000 Washington Street
- Suite 710
- Boston, MA 02118
Finally, before hiring a carpenter in Boston, be sure that the carpenter has a valid CSL license. You can do this by utilizing the search form provided by the OPSI Division of Occupational Licensure. Similarly, you can also check if your carpenter is a duly registered home improvement contractor online via the Home Improvement Contractor Registration Lookup platform provided by the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. Inquiries concerning the registration requirements for Boston carpenters can also be directed to this office at (617) 973-8787 or toll-free number (888) 283-3757.
How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Carpenters in the City of Boston?
The hourly rate charged by carpenters in the City of Boston typically depends on a number of factors, which include:
- The scope of the project.
- The nature of the project.
- The type and cost of materials that are needed to execute the project.
It's important to note that not all carpenters work on an hourly basis, and some carpenters may charge fixed fees for their services. However, getting multiple quotes for your project from several carpenters in your vicinity is advised, as this will help you determine the average cost of the project and also protect you from scammers and dishonest contractors.
A carpenter in the City of Boston earns an annual average wage of $65,120. The table below provides a comparison of the mean hourly wage for carpenters in the City of Boston against those of carpenters in the rest of the State of Massachusetts as well as across several other major American cities:Boston Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$31.31Massachusetts Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$30.21New York City Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$34.16Chicago Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$34.74Houston Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$21.53Phoenix Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$23.50Los Angeles Carpenters Mean Hourly Wage$32.37
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Do You Comply with the City of Boston Building Code for Carpentry Work?
The Massachusetts State Building Code (MSBC) is a collection of policies and regulations that are designed to ensure the safety of the lives and property of the residents of the City of Boston in relation to construction-related activities. The MSBC is divided into two main volumes. These are the Residential Volume, which governs all one and two-family dwellings, as well as townhouses and ancillary structures that are three floors or less, and the Base Volume, which governs all structures that are not covered by the Residential regulations. These codes mainly govern the construction, alteration, destruction, relocation, repair, usage, and maintenance of buildings and structures in the city, as well as the quality of materials used in and around these buildings.
When planning to hire a carpenter in Boston, it's important to make sure that the carpenter you employ is familiar with both the residential and base volumes of the Massachusetts State Building Code. This is because these codes include provisions for interior finishing, building accessibility, means of escape, and other carpentry-related aspects of building and construction. Hiring a carpenter who is unaware of these laws or does not operate in accordance with their provisions not only exposes you to potential code violations but also jeopardizes your health and safety. While licensed carpenters are usually familiar with the standards of the Massachusetts State Building Code, it is a wise practice to also become acquainted with these rules before beginning on a large home improvement project. You can call the Massachusetts Office of Public Safety and Inspections (OPSI) at (617) 727-3200 for information on the Massachusetts State Building Code (MSBC) as well as the sections of these codes that may relate to your proposed project.
Will You Get the Home Improvement Permits as Required by the City of Boston Code?
In the City of Boston, building permits are usually required for construction and home renovation projects. These include carpentry projects such as the installation of kitchen and bathroom cabinets, the modification or replacement of wall framing around a doorway, the construction of wooden fences, and the repair of window frames that are joined to walls. However, exceptions are granted for certain types of projects, such as:
- The construction of decks with an area of less than 200 square feet (18.58m2) and a maximum height of 30 inches (762 mm) above grade that are not linked to a residence and do not serve the exit door.
- The repair or replacement of missing or broken cabinet doors, drawers, or shelving, or the refinishing of cabinet surfaces
- The construction of wooden fences that are not more than 6 feet high
The issuance of these building permits is handled by the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulation and Standards (BBRS), and they can be obtained in person at the following location:
- 1000 Washington Street
- Suite 710
- Boston, MA 02118Phone: (617) 727-3200
Before submitting the appropriate building permit application form, interested individuals are typically required to perform the following:
- Check the Massachusetts Interactive Location Map to see if the property where the project will take place is located inside the city limits of Boston.
- Prepare the necessary plans for the project.
- Download the appropriate building permit application form, read and understand the filing instructions, and then fill out the form.
After the appropriate forms are submitted, the BBRS reviews them before issuing the requested permits. Following the evaluation and approval of the submitted documents, and payment of all required permit fees, the requested permits will be issued. Also, inspections will be required at different phases after the approved work begins to guarantee compliance with the applicable sections of the Massachusetts State Building Code (MSBC).
You can make permits and inspection-related inquiries in person at the BBRS office between the hours of 8:45 a.m. - 5:00 p.m, Monday through Friday. Questions about building permits and inspections can also be made to the BBRS via phone number (617) 727-3200 or by email.
What Kind of Carpentry Services Do You Offer?
Carpenters in Boston provide a wide range of services. However, these services can broadly be divided into two groups, namely rough carpentry services and finish carpentry services. Rough carpentry services generally involve works that are not visible after completion, and they are often referred to as the skeleton of structures. Examples of these services include the construction of wooden rafters and beams in homes. On the other hand, finish carpentry services generally involve work that is visible after completion, and they typically require a higher level of expertise and attention to detail to properly execute. Examples of these include the construction or installation of stairs, wooden floors, and trimmings. Furthermore, some carpenters may specialize in specific areas of woodwork-related construction and home improvements, such as new home construction or remodeling, cabinet and furniture manufacturing, commercial and industrial carpentry, and ornamental woodwork. Therefore, it's important to verify the specialty of carpenters before finalizing your hiring arrangements with these individuals. You should also ensure that the carpenter has the necessary skill and equipment to complete the project to your satisfaction.
The following are the average costs of certain carpentry services in Boston:
- Interior trim and molding installation (with mid-grade trim or molding) - $9.64 - $10.83 per linear foot
- Carpentry framing (for unfinished home addition framing) - $28.26 - $33.00 per square foot
- Exterior trim installation/removal - $2.00 - $5.00 per linear foot
- Exterior trim installation (vinyl trim) - $5.00 - $15.00 per linear foot
- Exterior trim installation (wood trim) - $2.00 - $10.00 per linear foot
Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Carpenters in the City of Boston?
Carpenters in Boston are not mandated to have liability insurance. However, because carpentry involves the use of potentially hazardous equipment, it is important you ensure that the carpenter you hire is properly insured. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), carpenters were involved in 99 fatal and 11,670 nonfatal work injuries in 2019. These figures serve to underscore the necessity of making sure that your intended carpenter has an adequate insurance plan in place to cover any accidental injury or property damage that may occur while your home improvement project is going on. To verify the authenticity of the insurance, request for a copy of the individual's insurance certificate and contact the insurance company that insured it. Queries concerning Boston carpenter insurance policies can also be directed to the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulation and Standards (BBRS) at (617) 727-3200.
According to the 2018 Consumer Complaint Survey Report developed by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), home improvement complaints topped the list of top ten complaints made by consumers in the United States. A majority of these complaints stemmed from financial losses due to contractors failing to carry out or complete projects that had already been paid for. In some cases, the homes of the consumers were made unlivable as a result of the incomplete work. Home improvement scams in the City of Boston may come in different forms, and you must be able to recognize the signs of a fraudulent contractor while looking for carpenters near you. Some common warning signs that you may be dealing with a fraudulent contractor include the following:
- The contractor claims to have leftover supplies from a previous project.
- The contractor puts you under a lot of pressure to make a choice right away.
- The contractor demands full payment upfront or only takes cash payments.
- The contractor knocks on your door searching for work claiming to have been "in the neighborhood".
- The contractor either ignores the necessity for a written contract or produces a poor, difficult-to-read document.
- The contractor recommends that you take out a loan from a lender they know.
You can ensure that you hire a legitimate carpenter while also protecting yourself from any home improvement scams by adopting the following steps:
- Consider only licensed or registered carpenters. You can confirm the carpenter's licensing or registration status by utilizing either the search form or the registration lookup platform provided by the Massachusetts OPSI's Division of Occupational Licensure and Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation respectively.
- Look up the carpenter's name online using terms like "scam," "review," or "complaint" to see whether they have been the subject of any consumer complaints. Alternatively, you can access reputable internet rating services like the Better Business Bureau to look up testimonials and third-party reviews on the carpenter.
- Obtain several written estimates that contain a description of the work to be performed, materials, a completion date, and a price. Don't always go with the lowest bidder. If there's a significant disparity in the estimations, ask for an explanation.
- Always insist on a signed and well-detailed contract for your project before any work begins, and thoroughly examine this contract before signing it.
- Always keep any upfront payments to a maximum of 15% of the project's overall value. You should also avoid carpenters who demand payment in cash.
You can report home improvement and carpenter-related frauds that occur in the City of Boston by filling out the Massachusetts Office Of Consumer Affairs And Business Regulation's complaint application form and submitting the completed form to the following address:
- Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
- Home Improvement Contractor Program
- 1000 Washington Street
- Suite 710
- Boston, MA 02118