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Massachusetts proposes new contractor licenses to help eliminate bad actors

Massachusetts lawmakers are currently fighting for legislation that would require pool installers to be licensed under the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards.

The legislation has been introduced following a Boston NBC10 TV series called “To Catch A Contractor” that followed the exploits of Steve Docchio, owner of Xtreme Living Pools & Construction, who has been barred from working as a contractor in several New England states.

According to numerous reports and both civil and criminal lawsuits, Doccio accepted thousands of dollars to build swimming pools and instead left consumers with giant holes in their backyards.

Now, state legislators are pushing to require a swimming pool construction and installation work license as well as a swimming pool maintenance, service, and repair work license.

Jason Davidson, director of government relations for the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, says Doccio is an example of what he calls a bad actor.

To protect the public and raise professionalism in the industry, PHTA supports state pool and spa licensing efforts around the country to safeguard PHTA members and to defeat consumer exploitation by unskilled laborers.

Davidson was recently in Boston promoting the passage of House Bill 424 that would implement state licensing requirements.

“The legislation that we have put forth will try and help eliminate what we call in the industry, ‘bad actors,’” Davidson said. “If you’re going to go out and build a pool, if you’re going to maintain a pool, perform service, repair, you should be properly licensed, just like you would as a plumber or electrician.”

The legislation would also impose fines of increasing amounts for working as an unlicensed contractor. If it passes, the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards would establish the experience, training, and exams required for licensure.

House Bill 424 bill is currently in the House Ways and Means committee, where a nearly identical bill died in January 2021. Proponents were hoping that the bill would be brought to a vote by the end of the session on July 31.

According to the PHTA, there are only a handful of states that require licensing specifically for pool professionals.

However, a fair majority of states either have 1) a license requirement of a more general nature with little to no specific pool training required to obtain, 2) what may boil down to a “tax” in order to do business, or 3) there are no requirements at all.

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