The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) reminds homeowners to do their homework before hiring a building contractor after a storm ... or anytime.
“There are many companies in Minnesota that specialize in repairing roofs, siding and windows damaged by storms. Most of these contractors are reputable and licensed,” said Ken Peterson, DLI commissioner. “However, sometimes unscrupulous operators try to take advantage of storm victims.”
After neighborhoods experience a wind or hail storm, homeowners may find salespeople for these companies going door-to-door soliciting repair work.
Before signing any document, homeowners should call DLI at (651) 284-5069 or go online to DLI'sLicense Lookup search to verify the contractor is licensed and to learn if the contractor has a history of disciplinary action. Homeowners should also check with the Better Business Bureau and check for lawsuits or judgments involving the company or its owners in the state court system.
Homeowners are cautioned not to sign anything presented by a contractor unless the document is read very carefully and the homeowner has made a firm decision to hire that contractor. Generally speaking, if a homeowner signs a piece of paper it is a contract, regardless of what the salesperson says; the homeowner is then obligated to use the contractor for all repairs approved by the homeowner's insurance company.
Contractors cannot offer to pay the homeowner's insurance deductible. State law prohibits contractors from paying deductibles or offering any compensation as an incentive to hire them to perform storm repair services.
Before hiring a contractor, DLI suggests homeowners ask:
- for the contractor's license number and then contact DLI's CCLD Enforcement Unit at (651) 284-5069 or firstname.lastname@example.org to verify the contractor is currently licensed and to determine if the contractor has a disciplinary history;
- the contractor how long and where they have been in business;
- for references and check with former customers to see if they were satisfied with the work; and
- for a local phone number and a Minnesota business address other than a post office box.