Use the License Lookup search tool to check the status of other licensees.
The Consumer's Guide to Hiring a Residential Building Contractor offers useful information, including: how to select a contractor, how to solicit bids, what to include in a contract, how to understand a mechanic's lien and how to file a complaint against a contractor.
Do your homework before work begins on your home
The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry reminds homeowners to do some homework before hiring a building contractor after a storm ... or anytime.
Most contractors are reputable. However, some unscrupulous operators may attempt to take advantage of storm victims. Before hiring a contractor, call the Department of Labor and Industry to verify the contractor is licensed and to learn if there is a history of disciplinary action with that contractor. The status of a contractor's license can also be verified by using DLI's Licensing/Certificate search. Do not to sign anything presented by a contractor unless you read the document very carefully and have made a firm decision to hire that contractor. Generally speaking, if you sign a piece of paper, it is a contract, regardless of what the salesman tells you, and you are then obligated to its terms.
In some cases, a salesman for the contractor will explain that the company will work with the homeowner's insurance carrier to get a good settlement and that the homeowner will not have to pay any more than the amount of their deductible. The salesman will then ask the homeowner to sign an authorization form to allow the salesman to contact the insurer. Many of the forms state that by signing, the homeowner agrees to have the contractor perform the work allowed by the insurance company in exchange for the insurance claim proceeds.
The homeowner may be left with the mistaken impression that they are still free to pursue bids from other contractors, even after signing the document. However, some of these contract forms contain small print (usually on the back of the document) that says if the homeowner cancels the contract after three business days, the homeowner will owe the contractor a percentage (usually from 15 to 50 percent) of the total claim settlement.
This becomes a problem when the homeowner finds another contractor they prefer over the original contractor.
The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry licenses residential builders, remodelers, roofers and manufactured home installers. To work in Minnesota, these professionals must be licensed. If you hire an unlicensed contractor, you will not have access to the Contractor Recovery Fund, which is available to compensate consumers who have suffered losses due to a contractor's fraudulent, deceptive or dishonest practices.
Before you hire a contractor, the Department of Labor and Industry suggests the following:
Avoid contractors that:
Before you sign a contract, make sure it includes:
What is the Contractor Recovery Fund?
The purpose of the Contractor Recovery Fund is to compensate consumers who have suffered losses due to a licensed contractor's fraudulent, deceptive or dishonest practices, conversion of funds or failure to perform. All licensed contractors are required to pay a fee to the fund.
The total amount that can be paid out against any one licensed contractor is $75,000. If multiple claims are filed against the same contractor, they are prorated. In these situations, you may not be able to recover your entire loss. To better protect yourself, you may wish to request your contractor obtain a performance bond for your specific project, in case the contractor does not perform. A performance bond would provide a specific level of protection for your specific project.
If you have a problem or complaint with a residential building contractor:
Your first concern should be to make sure the contractor is licensed to work in Minnesota. If you hire an unlicensed contractor, you will not have access to the Contractor Recovery Fund. This is a fund that all licensed contractors pay into and it is used to compensate consumers who suffer a loss due to the contractor's actions.
The Department of Labor and Industry licenses residential builders, remodelers, roofers and manufactured home installers. Before hiring a contractor, the department recommends you ask for the contractor's license number and contact the Department of Labor and Industry to verify the builder is licensed. You can also find out if he or she has been the subject of any disciplinary action.
The department also advises consumers to ask the contractor for references and check with former customers to see if they were satisfied with the quality of work performed. Ask how long the contractor has been in business and where, and ask for a Minnesota business address other than a post office box. Also ask for a local phone number where the contractor can be reached during normal business hours.
When shopping for a contractor, avoid hiring any contractor who:
Before signing a contract, make sure it includes a summary of the work to be done, a description of materials, the total contract price or how the price will be calculated, and specific timelines and provisions that address what will happen if the contractor fails to meet these deadlines.
Consider a performance bond
Consumers are also advised to be aware that although the Contractors Recovery Fund helps consumers recover losses from licensed contractors, the total amount that can be paid out against any one licensed contractor is $75,000. If multiple claims are made against the same contractor, they are prorated; therefore, an individual consumer may not recover the full loss. To provide additional protection, you may request that your contractor obtain a performance bond, which would provide a specific level of protection for your project.
If you have a problem or complaint with a residential building contractor, you should call the Department of Labor and Industry Residential Building Contractor unit at (651) 284-5069 or toll-free at 1-800-342-5354. A department representative will discuss the situation with you and give you information about how to resolve the problem. You may also submit a written complaint for formal investigation.
In its 2010 session, the Minnesota legislature enacted legislation (view Session Laws Chapter 343) created a home warranty dispute resolution process homeowners and builders or home improvement contractors are required to employ before a homeowner warranty dispute may proceed to litigation pursuant to Minn. Stat. Ch. 327A (unless the parties agree to use an alternative dispute resolution mechanism). The goal of this legislation is to encourage and facilitate settlement of these disputes and limit the costs to all parties by providing an unbiased and nonbinding evaluation of the relative merits of the parties' positions. The dispute resolution process is administered by DLI, and applies to home warranty claims in which the builder was given notice of a claim on or after Jan. 1, 2011. Read more about the dispute resolution process ...
The Contractors Recovery Fund compensates owners or renters of residential property in Minnesota who have lost money due to a licensed contractor's fraudulent, deceptive or dishonest practices, conversion of funds or failure of performance. This packet contains everything needed to apply to the fund.