Minnesota Contractor License Search

What You Should Know about Hiring a Contractor in Minnesota

Minnesota boasts over 134,000 registered contractors with more than 81,000 offering specialty trade. Opting for a licensed contractor gives you the peace of mind that they possess the necessary licenses and training to complete your project satisfactorily. Also, licensed contractors typically carry insurance and bonding, protecting you from potential financial liabilities from property damage or on-site injuries. By verifying your contractor's license and qualifications, you can avoid jeopardizing your family's safety and falling victim to fraudulent contractors who may abscond with your money.

Therefore before you hire a contractor in the state, it is crucial to consider the following key issues:

Who Is a Contractor in Minnesota?

A contractor is a business or individual that provides services based on an oral or written agreement. In exchange for their services, contractors typically receive compensation. These individuals offer various services, such as repairs and alterations and building or renovating properties. Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI)) handles the regulation and licensing of contractors. The department also licenses specialty contractors like plumbers, electricians, and HVACR technicians.

Typically, Minnesota groups contractors into two main categories, namely:

  • General Contractors: A general contractor handles home improvement or construction projects. They are responsible for hiring subcontractors, obtaining permits, overseeing workers, and ensuring the tasks are timely. They can handle construction work except those requiring a specialty license. Although Minnesota does not require a license for general contractors, they still need to carry a license to work on residential real estate (one to four units). These licenses include
    • Residential remodeling contractors who can only work on existing structures. They cannot construct detached garages or new homes.
    • Residential building contractor: these individuals can handle all the work a home remodeling contractor can do. They can also build new structures.
    • Residential roofer license: these individuals can perform roofing work. However, they must not work on any other task besides roofing.
  • Specialty Contractors: Unlike general contractors, specialty contractors are focused on a specific trade or aspect of a home improvement and construction-related project, such as plumbing or mechanical, high-pressure piping, and electrical. Specialty contractors are professionals hired to work on projects directly for clients or general contractors. They are required to obtain a trade-specific license from the DLI before offering their services.

How to Search for a Contractor's License in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) oversees general and specialty contractors and specialty and registered contractors in Idaho. These individuals must be licensed before they can provide services to residents.

We recommend you check if the contractor you're considering has the proper license and follows pertinent regulations. You can verify your prospective contractor has a valid state-issued license through the Uhire Professional License Search platform. Likewise, you can use the DLI's License and Registration Lookup platform to confirm your preferred contractor's registration or licensing status. These tools allow you to perform a comprehensive search for a license by entering the license number, business name, or personal information of the prospective contractor.

Penalty for Hiring a Contractor Without a License in Minnesota

While it is not illegal to hire an unlicensed contractor, there are many drawbacks to doing so, like:

  • Hiring incompetent and unqualified contractors can result in poor service.
  • Unlicensed contractors are often uninsured and bonded. This means that you can be held responsible for any bodily injuries or property damages caused during the project.
  • Unlicensed contractors can't pull necessary permits and cannot comply with relevant building codes and regulations if they carry out the projects. Doing so can negatively affect your property's value and lead to building code violations.

In Minnesota, it is a violation for anyone to operate without a license. DLI can order unlicensed contractors to stop operating, and they could face a monetary fine of up to $10,000 per violation.

How Much Does a Contractor Charge in Minnesota?

Typically, specialty contractors charge around $35 to $125 an hour for their services in Minnesota. They used to base their fees on factors like labor intensity and the complexity of the tasks they are contracted for.

The table below shows the average hourly rates for subcontractors in Minnesota. Note that the reputation of the contractor and your location may impact the actual cost:

$60 - $100
$80 - $120
HVACR Technicians
$75 - $150
$40 - $80
$30 - $60
$30 - $95
Flooring Contractors
$50 - $80
$60 - $120
$50 - $95
$75 - $200
Interior Designers
$70 - $170
Excavation Contractors
$100 - $240
Concrete Contractors
$60 - $120
$50 - $70
Appliance Repair Technicians
$50 - $100
$50 - $105
Cleaning Services
$50 - $100
$55 - $150

Generally, a commercial or residential project requires several specialty contractors. To cut down on time and money, it is better to work with a general contractor on the project to handle all tasks, including handling multiple subcontractors. Although their fees are typically based on the project's overall cost ranging from 10 to 20 percent of the total value and are calculated using any of the following methods:

  • Fixed Price Method: This arrangement involves the general contractor agreeing to a fixed fee for a specific period. It's ideal for projects with a definite schedule.
  • Cost Plus Fee Method: This method allows the general contractor to charge a fee for their work and include a markup for any additional services they provide. It is ideal for large projects, though it is crucial to insist on a fixed maximum price to avoid costly overruns.

Home remodeling and construction projects in Minnesota can range from $100 to $300 per square foot. However, the overall cost can be influenced by various factors, including:

  • The nature and scope of the project.
  • The cost of required materials.
  • Your location.
  • Permit costs, labor fees, and other miscellaneous expenses.
  • Accessibility to the project site and site conditions.
  • Contractor costs.
  • The reputation and experience of involved contractors.
  • The urgency of required services.

Tips for Hiring a Contractor in Minnesota

When hiring a contractor for a building project, it is important to ensure they can handle the tasks and provide satisfactory results. To guarantee to hire a professional contractor, you need to understand the scope of the project and the type of contractor needed to perform the work. Also, you should consider the following tips before hiring contractors in Minnesota:

  • Seek recommendations from trusted sources such as friends, family, or neighbors.
  • Verify your prospective contractor's license by checking with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI). You should also check if there is any administrative enforcement action against your preferred contractor or specialty contractor.
  • Get and compare multiple cost estimates from different contractors for your project.
  • Ask the contractor's past clients for references. Contact those references and inquire about their work experience with the contractor.
  • Confirm that the contractor and all subcontractors have adequate insurance coverage and bond.
  • Initiate a written contract and ensure you carefully review the contract. Ensure it includes important details such as the project timeline, payment schedule, and warranties.
  • Ensure that the contractor is capable of obtaining the necessary permits.
  • Never pay the total cost of the project upfront. Instead, you should limit down payments for your projects to 10 – 30 percent of the total cost, depending on the scale of the project.
  • Ensure the project has been satisfactorily completed before you make the final payment.
  • Avoid cash payments
  • Keep copies of all important documents, including receipts, invoices, warranties, and contracts related to the project.

Is Your Contractor Insured and Bonded as Required by Minnesota Statutes?

Contractors in Minnesota must provide proof of commercial general liability insurance of at least $100,000 per occurrence and a $300,000 aggregate limit for bodily injury and property damage. They must also carry employee workers' compensation insurance, if any. It is advisable to confirm that your prospective contractor is bonded and insured before hiring them is advisable. This will allow you to protect yourself against various risks, such as accidental property damage and bodily injuries.

Note that bonding and insurance provide different types of protection. Liability insurance protects both the contractor and the project owner to prevent them from being held liable for any damages arising from an accident during the work. Meanwhile, bonds are used to protect the project owner from the effects of the contractor's failure to deliver the promised work.

Before hiring a contractor, ensure they have the necessary insurance and bonding documents by requesting copies of their certificates. Also, contact their insurance provider to confirm they have adequate coverage for the project's scope. Contact the Minnesota State License Board at (651) 284-5034 to learn more about the state's contractor insurance requirements.

Top Home Improvement Scams in Minnesota

About 2.7 out of every 10,000 households in Minnesota have been victims of home improvement scams. Residents of the state suffer from different types of scams, from poor performance by the contractor to failing to complete the work after being paid. Before you hire a contractor for home remodeling work in Minnesota, you should look out for the following red flags:

  • Employing high-pressure sales tactics to push you into making quick decisions without thoroughly considering your options
  • Going door-to-door, offering their services at a significantly lower price compared to professional contractors
  • Operating without the necessary licenses or insurance
  • Inflating the cost of required materials for the project
  • Requesting sizeable upfront payment or full payment before commencing the work
  • Avoiding written contracts or trying to rush you into signing incomplete or vague agreements
  • Unwilling to provide references or provide a portfolio of their previous work
  • Neglecting to obtain necessary permits or non-adherence to local building codes

You should consider taking the following steps to avoid these scams before hiring a contractor:

  • Research and verify the credentials of the contractor you are considering, including their licensing status, insurance coverage, and bond.
  • Be wary of unsolicited contractors and home improvement services.
  • Request and compare quotes from multiple contractors. Avoid quotes that are significantly lower or higher than the average.
  • Read Reviews online reviews and ratings of the contractor from reputable sources.
  • Insist on a written contract before starting any work. Ensure the written contract outlines the project's scope, payment terms, and timeline.
  • Carefully review any contract or other documents and ensure you understand and agree to all terms before signing.
  • Ensure that the contractor will handle pulling all necessary permits. Also, ensure they can adhere to all local building codes and regulations.
  • Never pay full payment upfront. Limit down payments to 10 - 30 percent of the project's total, whichever is less.
  • Avoid cash payments.

How to Report Fraudulent Minnesota Contractors

You can report contractors in Minnesota who have scammed you or delivered shoddy work to various agencies, depending on the nature of the complaint:

Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI): You can file a complaint with DLI if you believe that your prospective contractor is not licensed or operating outside the scope of their license. You can do this by completing an online complaint form or sending the completed complaint form via mail to:

Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry
Residential Building Contractors
443 Lafayette Road N.
St. Paul, MN 55155.

Alternatively, you can file a complaint via email or by contacting DLI at (651) 284-5069 or (800) 342-5354. Ensure you include the type of licensed service that you wish to file a complaint against in the email or call.

Minnesota Attorney General's Office: You can report cases of deceptive business practices and excessive contractor charges in Minnesota to the state's Attorney General's Office. You can file a report by completing an online complaint form and ensure you attach copies of any relevant documents, such as bills, contracts, and invoices.

Small Claims Court: If you intend to recover monetary compensation from the contractor, you can file a case against them at the relevant Small Claims Court, also known as ‘Conciliation Court.' You can take this step if the money in dispute is not more than $15,000, and you will be required to pay a filing fee depending on the county where you are filing from.

Better Business Bureau (BBB): You can also report a fraudulent contractor by contacting the Better Business Bureau's local branch in Minnesota. The organization encourages individuals to lodge complaints against contractors, share their experiences, or report their scam schemes.

The Police Department: If you feel threatened or have been robbed by a contractor, you should immediately report the incident to your local police department.

Cities in Minnesota