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How to Choose a Contractor or Builder

The Minnesota Department of Commerce licenses residential builders, remodelers, roofers and manufactured home installers. In order to work in Minnesota, these professionals must be licensed. If you hire an unlicensed contractor and they go out of business or skip town, you will not have access to the Contractor's 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 Commerce suggests:
•  Ask for the contractor's license number and contact the Department of Commerce at 800-657-3602 to verify that the builder is currently licensed and to find out if they have a disciplinary history
•  Ask the contractor how long and where they have been in business
•  Ask for references and check with former customers to see if they were satisfied with the company’s work
•  Ask for a Minnesota business address other than a post office box
•  Ask for a local phone number where the contractor can be reached during normal business hours

Avoid contractors who:
•  Arrive in an unmarked truck or van
•  Ask you to sign an "estimate" or "authorization" before you have decided to actually hire them
•  Appear to be willing to do the job at an unusually low price
•  Only provide a post office box for their business address
•  Require full or substantial payment before work begins
•  Refuse to provide you with a written estimate or contract
•  Refuse to provide you with a Minnesota Department of Commerce license number
•  Refuse to provide you with references
•  Show up at your door unsolicited
•  Use high pressure sales tactics

Before you sign a contract, make sure it includes:
•  A detailed summary of the work to be done
•  A description of materials
•  The total contract price or how the price will be calculated
•  Specific timelines and provisions that address what will happen if the contractor fails to meet the contractual deadlines


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