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Frequently Asked Questions


We get a lot of questions from builders asking about becoming licensed to build in Massachusetts. The questions range from their experience to how we prepare them to pass the MACS exam.

Click on the following to see some of the questions we have been asked about the various topics over the past 14 years:



Types of Licenses _______________________________________________________________

License Q1. I no longer wish to work with the tools. How do I get the general contractor license?

License A1. There is no general contractor license in Massachusetts.

Anyone can be a general contractor, with or without a license. There are, however, some substantial limitations for people who want to do general contracting without a license.

The major limitation of trying to be a successfull general contractor without a license is control of the project. People who obtain the building permit are the ones in control of the project. People who attempt to control the project without holding the building permit have control only through legal routes. Without the building permit, if anything goes wrong, it will be between you, the permit holder, and the legal system.

Ask yourself, "What do I do if my contractor shuts down my job and leaves?" If he holds the building permits ...work stops. If you hold the building permits you can get another contractor and continue with the work.

Legal routes can be time consuming and expensive. People who wish to be general contractors are best getting a construction supervisor license so that they can get the building permits and, thus, control the project.
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License Q2. How many types of licenses are there?

License A2. Currently there are eight types of licenses offered by the Commonwealth:

  • Unrestricted Construction Supervisor License,
  • Restricted One- and Two-Family Construction Supervisor License,
  • Restricted Masonry Construction Supervisor License,
  • Residential Roof Covering Construction Supervisor License,
  • Residential Window and Siding Construction Supervisor License,
  • Residential Solid Fuel Burning Appliance Construction Supervisor License,
  • Demolition Only Construction Supervisor License,
  • Insulation Construction Supervisor License.


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License Q3. How do I determine which license is best for me?

License A3. The answer to this question is not straight forward. It depends on what you want NOW, and what you will need in the future.

Each license has its benefits, some have their drawbacks.

The Unrestricted Construction Supervisor License is the most powerful of all of the licenses offered by the Commonwealth. You can do everything with this license that you can do with all of the other licenses, including building new one- or two-family dwellings. Buildings over 35,000 cubic feet, however, require input from a licensed professional engineer and/or a registered architect, also known as a registered design professional.

You will still apply for and obtain permits for buildings requiring a registered design professional, but the registered design professional will stamp the plans and specifications for the structure and check the construction of the structure as it progresses.

The Restricted One- and Two-Family Construction Supervisor License is second most powerful of all the licenses. You can do everything with this license that you can do will all of the other licenses, except the Unrestricted Construction Supervisor License, on one- and two-family dwellings. You can build new one- or two-family dwellings from the ground up, you can remodel them; you can build accessory structures, such as garages, and sheds of any size.

The Restricted Masonry Construction Supervisor License enables a person to apply for and obtain building permits to do masonry work on one- or two-family dwellings. Such work encompasses fireplaces, chimneys, masonry means of egress stairs, masonry retaining walls which retain four feet or more of unbalanced fill, and other masonry structures for which a building permit is required.

Specialty licenses include the Residential Roof Covering Construction Supervisor License, the Residential Window and Siding Construction Supervisor License, the Residential Solid Fuel Burning Appliance Construction Supervisor License, the Demolition Only Construction Supervisor License, and Insulation Construction Supervisor License. If your work is strictly in one of these areas you may be want to obtain one of these licenses.

The drawbacks of having a restricted license is that you may not be able to take advantage of some work that is available without employing someone who has a license to do that work.

We have a lot of students who have a restricted license that want to upgrade to the unrestricted license, because they want to expand. Many say they wished they had taken the unrestricted exam and had gotten the process done, instead of having to redo the test experience again.
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License Q4. Is my license good everywhere in Massachusetts?

License A4. Sort of.

There are some towns/cities who have maintained their own code and licensing procedure since the beginning of the state building code: Boston, Cambridge, Lowell and Quincy. We understand that Lowell and Quincy do have a reciprocal agreement with the state license, so construction in both of those municipalities is virtually seamless. Boston and Cambridge are a question. More on those cities as we find out.

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License Q5. Do all of the municipalities, except Lowell, Quincy, Boston and Cambridge, have to follow the State Building Code?

License A5. Absolutely. It is the law of the land. There are very few times when the state building code is not enforced uniformly. One is when a town has elected the home rule option. In this case there will be some well defined differences between what is in the code book and what is town law. These are areas to be looked into during the permitting process.

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License Q6. How long is my license good for?

License A6. Licenses are initially issued for three years for a fee of $150.00. After the three year period is up you renew your license. The fee to renew a license is $100.00 and the renewed license is good for two years, after which it will need to be renewed again.
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License Q7. Do I have to take a test again to renew my license?

License A7. No. Currently is is simply sending in the fee and receiving the renewed license. We expect that in the near future license renewal will be linked to continuing education, but we have not heard of any testing associated with renewal. _______________________________________________________________

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Questions on experience for taking the MACS Exam.

Exp Q1. I have heard different stories about what is required by the state to take to take the license test. What is the real skinny?

Exp A1. The building code requires applicants for the MACS exam to have three years of documentable construction experience. The actual words printed in the code are excerpted below:

780 CMR 110.R5.2 REGISTRATION AND LICENSING


110.R5.2.1 Qualifications. A Construction Supervisor License candidate shall demonstrate that he or she has had at least three years of experience in their field. This experience must have been compleated within the ten-year period prior to date of application. Successful compleation of certain educational programs may satisfy one to two years of required experience. In addition, all applicants are required to successfully pass an examination in order to recieve a license. for a list of pre exam qualifications access the examination application lnted in 780 CMR 110.R5CMR 110.R5.2.5.2.2

NOTE: The codebook does not mention "hands-on" experience, but "hands-on" experience is what the testing agency application asks you to document. _______________________________________________________________

Exp Q2. I am a licensed plumber in Massachusetts with over thirty years of experience. Am I eligible to take the Massachusetts MACS exam?

Exp A2. This is the same concern for electricians and other construction professionals not specifically doing the work of a builder. Some people say you can take the exam, others say you cannot. CCI called the Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) in Boston and asked that very question. Their "opinion" was that plumbers and electricians do not have the requisite experience to sit for the MACS exam. You may call them directly to discuss your situation. Their number is (617) 727-3200 extension 25215.
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Exp Q3. I have three years of construction experience outside of Massachusetts. I do not live in Massachusetts and I have never worked in Massachusetts? Am I eligible to take the Massachusetts MACS exam?

Exp A3. Yes, you are eligible to take the MACS exam. _______________________________________________________________

Exp Q4. I have always been self-employed. I have three years of construction experience. Can I get licensed?

Exp A4. Yes, as long as you can show evidence of your three years of experience to the state. _______________________________________________________________

Exp Q5. Are there age restrictions for taking the MACS test?

Exp A5. Yes. There is a lower age limit. You must be 18 years old on or before the day you sit for the exam. There is no upper age limit. _______________________________________________________________

Exp Q6. I have attended a four year vocational high school and have received a Batchelor's degree in Construction Management. Am I eligible to take the MACS exam?

Exp A6. Successful completion of a three- or four-year vocational high school or other vocational school program in the field of building construction or completion of a bachelor, master or PhD degree from an accredited college or university shall be deemed as satisfying one year of work experience.

Successful completion of a bachelor, master or PhD degree from an accredited college or university in architecture or science, engineering, or technology in a related field shall be deemed as satisfying two years work experience.


Education can account for a maximum of two years experience.

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Exp Q7. I have my real estate license and am a property manager. I have managed millions of dollars of construction work for my company over the past 10 years. Do I need any other experience to sit for the MACS exam?

Exp A7. Yes, you need to show three years of "hands-on" construction experience. Management positions do not qualify as experience towards the requisite three years. _______________________________________________________________

Exp Q8. I own several rental properties, including a three decker and a four story townhouse. I do all my own work on these properties. Does this qualify me to take the MACS exam?

Exp A8. Maybe. You must show experience that consists of full time construction work, that is "hands-on" work, forty hours a week for three years. It does not matter if the work you do is srictly on your properties or if it is shared between your properties and other's properties.
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Exp Q9. How do I show the state that I have the experience they require?

Exp A9. As noted in the excerpt from the codebook, a letter of
attestation is one way to demonstrate experience. This letter must be notarized by the person who gives the attestation. Copies of financial forms, such as W2s, 1099s, 1120s and Schedule C's have also been accepted. _______________________________________________________________

If your particular situation is not covered above, please give us a call at
(888) 833-5207 and we will try to answer your questions.


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The MACS Examination

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Exam Q1. I have twenty-five years of building experience. Do I really need to take a course to pass the test?

Exam A1. Maybe or maybe not.

The MACS exam is made up of questions out of the codebooks and general knowledge questions. The International Building Code 2009 codebook has over 670 pages of standards, rules, regulations, and external references. The One- and Two-Family Dwelling code has over 870 pages of the same topics, plus the two 780 CMR amendments 214 pages for the commercial and 41 for the residential. Add another 142 or more pages for the IECC, 190 or more for the Architectural Access Board's Rules and Regulations, and about 600 pages for OSHA. This means that if you are taking the unrestricted exam you have over 2700 pages in which to find most answers to the exam.

If you know the code well, you will not need to take a course to prepare you to pass the exam. You can miss all of the general knowledge questions and still pass the exam. If you do not know the code, and have a massive amount of spare time to read the books, you may not need to take a course to prepare you to pass the exam.

If you don't really know the code and don't want to spend you life reading through the books to try to piece together what is important for the test and what isn't, you most likely will benefit highly from attending a professionally designed and presented program focusing on your passing the state exam.
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Exam Q2. How difficult is the state test?

Exam A2. If you take a program that prepares you to pass the MACS exam, you will find the exam substantially easier then if you do not take such a program.

Heavily experienced builders will save themselves at least $100.00 by taking a quality program to prepare for the exam. This is because they will pass the exam the first time and will not have to retake it to get their license. Some people take the exam several times before taking a program to prepare for the MACS exam. _______________________________________________________________

Exam Q3. I understand that the state exam is open book. Is this true?

Exam A3. Yes. The state wants you to have a working knowledge of the codebooks. You will demonstrate that you do by locating answers in the codebooks to some of their questions. _______________________________________________________________

Exam Q4. How many questions are there in the exam?

Exam A4. There are 75 multiple choice answer questions. _______________________________________________________________

Exam Q5. How much time will I have to take the exam?

Exam A5. You will be given three hours to complete the exam.

75 questions in three hours breaks the time down to 2.5 minutes you are alotted per question.

Not bad, you say?

You must read the question, interpret what they are asking you to respond to from the question, locate what you believe is the answer in either the codebook(s) or in your notes, assure your answer matches what they are asking, document this answer and do it again, 74 more times after the first question.

Some of our students finish the exam early and are able to take time to review all of their questions and answers. Others claim it is the fastest three hours of their lives!

In either case, they pass the exam.

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Exam Q6. How long will it take to get my results from the exam?

Exam A6. At the end of the exam you are given your results, IF the testing agencies computers are working as they should. If the computers are not working as they should it will take about two weeks after you complete the exam to get your results. _______________________________________________________________

Exam Q7. Are there some test centers that are better to go to than others to take the exam?

Exam A7. Not so much any more. When the shift was made to computer based testing there was some confusion about what was allowed and what was not allowed in the test center. It appears that this concern has been minimized by improved training for test center personnel and by awareness training for CCI students.

CCI gives its students instructions on taking the exam. CCI students are given a Test Center Evaluation form to complete for follow-up actions, if the student is dissatisfied with the test center or testing experience.
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If your particular situation is not covered above, please give us a call at
(888) 833-5207 and we will try to answer your questions.



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Our Unrestricted License Classes _______________________________________________________________


UClass Q1. How often do you hold the Unrestricted License classes?

UClass A1. Four times a year, beginning in January, April, July, and October. We do private classes for companies and individuals when requested at times convenient to them throughout the year. _______________________________________________________________

UClass Q2. When do your classes begin and end?

UClass A2. Our classes are held once a week for seven weeks. They are sometimes extended past the scheduled seven week period, because a class is shut down due to weather conditions or other conditions beyond our control. In this case we extend the period over which the classes are held. _______________________________________________________________

UClass Q3. How long are your classes each night?

UClass A3. Our classes are three and one half hours a night, usually between 6:00 PM and 9:30 PM, with a 10 minute break between at the end of the first 50 minutes and at the end of the second 50 minutes. A break between the hours gives students a chance to stretch their legs and get a breath of fresh air. It also enables students to refresh their mind and be better mentally prepared for the following segment of the evening's program.

Our students usually work hard during the day, and come to class a little weary. We find that structuring our classes into three hour modules gives students the best learning experience.

Retention rate ultimately diminishes as the evening progresses. _______________________________________________________________

UClass Q4. What are your classes like?

UClass A4. Our classes are in a questions and answers format, just like the exam you will be taking. Our instructors discuss sections of the codebooks which are pertinent to materials being covered in class and answer student questions. Questions from students are heartily encouraged.

The first night of class the instructor hands out the applications for the MACS exam and goes over those applications with you to assure you understand what you need to do before sending the application in to Prometric, the testing agency. Then you get an overview of the classes. You are shown how to organize your codebooks for speed in finding answers to questions. The instructor goes over each chapter in the Basic code, giving you a thumbnail of what is in each chapter. You are given in-depth information on the first few chapters. Before the end of the first night you are given vital information on finding answers to questions in the codebooks.

Each night after the first night, classes 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, you begin class with a 50 minute quiz. The instructor goes over that quiz to assure you know where to find the answer to each question. In addition, the you are given Skill Builders each class to take home with you and complete before the next class. The instructor goes over these Skill Builders at the next class to assure you know where to find the answer to each of those questions.

On night 6 you take a practice exam, three hours, 75 questions. This exam will help you to assess your progress and success on the actual exam. It tells you whether you are prepared for the state exam or whether you need to brush-up a bit more.

The last night of classes the instructor goes over the practice exam and other materials to complete your preparation for taking and passing the exam. You are given methods to use at the test center and instructions on documenting your test experience along with a form to make the documentation easy, if it is needed.
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UClass Q5. I don't do well on tests. How can your classes help me?

UClass A5. Our instructors discuss methods for taking the state test. Our classes provide you with a mini-testing experience each night after the first night so you can try the methods suggested. Here you will learn how to interpret what a question is asking and to discern the fastest way to find the answer. Our instructors monitor your work and those students who are having difficulty receive additional attention. You will have had a massive experience with questions and answers, so much so your speed in finding answers to the questions will increase dramatically. At the same time your level of knowledge will be increasing right up to the exam. Our students do get exceptional results taking the state exam; you will too.
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UClass Q6. Are your classes hard?

UClass A6. Our course was designed for builders who have been out of school for a long time, say 15 or more years. It was designed to evoke discussions and to share ideas between students and the instructor. Learning based upon listening, seeing and discussing reinforces information in student's minds. This tends to make the difficulty level less than other methods. Ultimately it will be based upon the student's background, experience and ability to assimilate information. What one student finds difficult, another will not.
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UClass Q7. How do your classes compare with others?

UClass A7. We don't know very much about classes by others.

We understand that some others give lengthy reading assignments and put students into small groups, to help each other locate material in the codebooks. This is not a real life situation as it relates to the exam. The exam is one person, alone, responding to questions. Our classes are one big simulated exam situation after another. This is why they are so successful.

We understand that others have multiple instructors during their class period who present limited topics and who are not certified building officials. We feel that this leads to discontinuity in a learning situation. We prefer one certified building official as an instructor for the entire sequence of classes. Our instructors get to know their students and can respond to a student's individual needs over the entire program.

We understand that others conduct both longer and shorter periods of classwork and longer and shorter hours per class. The shortest period for classes we have heard is six-two hour classes in two weeks. The longest we have heard is 10-three hour classes in 10 weeks. We wonder how a person can possibly be prepared to take the MACS exam with just two weeks preparation.
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UClass Q8. Can I miss a class?

UClass A8. Yes, but we want you to keep up. We ask that you call our office and and tell us of the class you missed or are going to miss. We will get you materials for the class you were not able to attend so you can do the work of the class you missed. When you return to class, your instructor will bring you up to speed on anything you may have missed in class while you were out.
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Uclass Q9. Others have guarantees that pay for your next test if you fail the first one. You have a guarantee also. How do the guarantees compare?

Uclass A9. First I should say that not all providers have a guarantee, in fact most do not. As far as those who do have a guarantee we only know what we read on their publications. We do feel our guarantee is superior to everyone's because it is the most flexible. Should a person not pass the state exam the first time, we send them the cost of the exam right away. They do not have to go through the classes again, if they do not wish to. They may go through the course again, at no charge. It is up to them. The few people who have taken the state exam and missed passing usually do so because of "test jitters." They reschedule the exam and pass it the second time. Having taken the exam the first time they are psychologically more at ease knowing what to expect in the test center and during the exam. We do give students more time to retake a class at no charge than others, should they wish.
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If your particular situation is not covered above, please give us a call at (888) 833-5207 and we will try to answer your questions.



Massachusetts State Building Codebooks


There are some students who like to get their codebooks directly from the state bookstores. There are three State Bookstores. Please note only CMR's "Code of Massachusetts Regulations" both 780CMR and the 521CMR are avainable from the statehouse bookstore. any other references i.e.. International Building Code 2009 must be purchased elseware.

For those students we list the three state bookstores below for your convenience:

State Bookstore
State House, Room 116
Boston, MA 02133
(617) 727-2834

Western Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
436 Dwight Street
Springfield, MA 01103
(413) 784-1376

Southeastern Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
218 South Main Street, Suite 206
Fall River, MA 02721
(508) 646-1374

You may also go on-line and buy a codebook directly from the State by clicking here.


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