This is not meant to be a compete listing of all state laws and
rules that may apply to the home building process. It will help
you understand the role of the Department of Commerce in the licensing
of building contractors.
Q. What should you do when hiring a
A. Here are some guidelines
to use before selecting someone to build your home:
• Hire a licensed contractor: Although there are
some exceptions, most residential builders, remodelers, and roofers
are required to have a state Contractor license. Contact the Department
of Commerce to verify licensure and to check for any sanctions against
a particular contractor.
• Contact the builder association in your area:
There are over 15 local builder associations in Minnesota and the
Builders Association of Minnesota will gladly tell you which one
to contact (1-800-654-7783). If the contractor you have chosen is
a member, the association will have more specific information.
• Contact the Better Business Bureau: They may
be able to tell you if any complaints have been filed against the
• Ask for references: Every contractor will have
a list of references. Make a point to contact and ask former customers
if they were satisfied with the contractor's work, if they encountered
any problems, or if they would change anything. Ask to see homes
the contractor has built in your price range.
• Ask your contractor . . .: How long have they
been in business? Where and under what name? Who are their subcontractors?
How long have they worked together? Have they been the subject of
any legal action regarding their work?
Q. What should you avoid when hiring
A. Hiring an unlicensed
contractor . . . unless they can provide you with a certificate
of exemption issued by the Department of Commerce. However, even
if they are legally exempt, if something goes wrong you won't have
access to the Contractors Recovery Fund. They also might not carry
liability or property insurance that state licensed contractors
Avoid contractors who:
• Engage in high pressure sales tactics. Never decide before you
• Refuse to give written estimates or contracts.
• Fail to obtain proper permits or request that the homeowner get
• Require full or substantial payment before work begins.
Q. What do you do if you have problems
with a contractor?
A. Here's how the Minnesota
Department of commerce can help: The Department of Commerce is responsible
for licensing residential builders, remodelers, and roofing contractors.
It also investigates complaints from consumers alleging violations
of law and rules. When necessary, disciplinary action is taken against
the contractor's license.
If you have a problem with your contractor you may file a written
complaint. Most of the time complaints are settled without imposing
sanctions because the contractor agrees to fix the problem.
While most contractors are reliable, honest, and offer good quality
work, their license is no guarantee. It is important for you to
thoroughly check them out before entering into a contract.
If you would like more information about the complaint process,
please call the Department of Commerce.
Q. What are the licensing requirements
A. Minnesota law requires
residential builders, remodelers, and roofers to be licensed. It's
required for the company, but not for each employee. However, the
law only applies to contractors working on 1-4 unit family dwellings.
Each company receives a license number that is required to be displayed
in all advertising.
In order to obtain a license, contractors must:
• Have an owner or manager pass a written exam on technical and
• Provide proof of liability and property damage insurance
• Provide proof of workers' comp and unemployment insurance
• Disclose the organizational structure of the business
• Pay a license fee and contribute to the Contractors Recovery Fund
• Obtain 7 hours of continuing education each year
These are the situations that do not require a Contractor's license:
• Builders, remodelers, or roofers who earn less than $15,000/year
and have obtained a Certificate of Exemption.
• Specialty contractors providing one special skill such as carpentry,
masonry, or excavating.
• Plumbers, electricians, and mechanical contractors. They are licensed
by other agencies and not the Department of Commerce.
• Builders, remodelers, and roofers performing work only within
the Minneapolis city limits. Minneapolis has its own requirements.
• Homeowners doing the work on their own home.
If a contractor is not subject to state licensing, they may be
required to obtain a city license. Check with your city for more
Here's where to check for more information:
To check the status of a license . . .
of Commerce - Licensing Division (651) 284-5005
Toll Free: 1-800-342-5354
To file a complaint . . .
Department of Commerce - Enforcement Division: (651) 284-5069
Board of Registration of Architecture, Engineering, Land Surveying,
Landscape Architecture, and Certified Interior Design: 651-296-2388
Board of Electricity
Department of Health (plumbers)
Minnesota Attorney General: 651-296-3353
Builders Association of Minnesota:
Toll Free: 800-654-7783
Mechanical Contractors: Contact your city or county
Minnesota Pollution Control