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What Are Minnesota Contractors?

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry licenses and regulates several professionals in the state. This department's Construction Codes and Licensing Division issues nearly 100,000 licenses, registrations, and certifications every two years to individuals and businesses in over ten occupations and industries, including residential construction and remodeling, plumbing, roofing, and elevator construction. Professionals within these fields are generally referred to as contractors. Note that in addition to state-issued licenses, some municipalities in Minnesota also require contractors to obtain a municipal license before they can operate within their jurisdictions.

In addition to the Department of Labor and Industry, Minnesota has other state-level licensing authorities. The Minnesota Health Licensing Boards, for example, regulates healthcare providers, while the Lawyer Registration Office of the Minnesota Supreme Court governs attorney licensing. According to the American Bar Association, Minnesota has approximately 25,823 lawyers, and this equals a rate of five attorneys per 1,000 residents.

Tips for Hiring a Contractor
in Minnesota State

Adding a room, renovating a basement, or doing some much-needed repairs around your home can be a big undertaking that may require the expertise of a contractor. It is crucial to select a contractor with the training and experience to do the job correctly. Choosing a competent contractor will save you the headache and expense of having to correct shoddy work or resolve misunderstandings later. Here are a few essential points to consider when selecting a contractor for your home improvement projects in Minnesota:

  • Research about the project to know what it entails, including the materials needed and their cost.
  • Ask friends or neighbors who have completed similar projects for suggestions on contractors you should contact. You can also inquire about reputable contractors from building supply companies or others in the industry.
  • Ask for the contractor's license number and verify it online or by contacting the Department of Labour and Industry at (651) 284-5069 or (800) 342-5354. The Department also provides information on contractors' disciplinary history.
  • Ask the contractor for references and contact former customers to see if they were satisfied with the quality of the work or encountered problems.
  • Confirm how long the contractor has been in business, and ask for a Minnesota business address other than a P.O. box. Also, request a local phone number that you can use to contact the contractor during business hours.
  • Ensure that your contractor has liability insurance. Request a copy of your contractor’s worker’s compensation policy.
  • Check the state court system’s website for the contractor’s litigation and criminal history.

Note that it is essential to know the difference between a registered contractor and a licensed one when verifying a contractor’s license status. Home improvement contractors who do not hold a license must register under the Contractor Registration Program to be eligible to offer their services. Such contractors are treated as independent contractors instead of their parent company employees, and they are not required to provide proof of insurance or bonding. They also do not contribute to the Contractor Recovery Fund. Therefore, prioritize hiring a licensed contractor over a registered one as the registration program does not provide the same consumer protections that the licensing program does. Registration numbers always begin with the letters "IR," which are different from license numbers.

How to Search A Contractor’s License in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, you can verify your contractor's license status by contacting the Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) at (65) 1284-5069 or (800) 342-5354. Alternatively, you can check this online, by visiting the DLI License and Registration Lookup webpage.

As Minnesota's main licensing body, the DLI provides general contractors working on building or remodeling residential projects with a Residential Building Contracting or Residential Remodeling license. Similarly, subcontractors must obtain a Residential Building Contracting or Residential Remodeling license from DLI if they are performing work at least two of the following construction areas-roofing, excavation, masonry, carpentry, interior finishing, exterior finishing, drywall and plaster, and general installation. Electricians and plumbers require a separate license from DLI, while HVAC technicians are not regulated at the local level in the state.

Note, homeowners remodeling their own property for resale or speculation in Minnesota must also obtain a license from DLI. However, residential contractors earning less than $15,000 in annual gross revenue do not need to carry a license but must hold a certificate of exemption. It is a misdemeanor to perform any work in Minnesota that requires proper licensing.

How Much Does a Contractor Charge in
Minnesota State?

The cost of hiring a home improvement contractor in Minnesota varies depending on your location and the type of work the contractor performs. Typically, contractors in Minnesota usually bill between $10 and $50 per hour for labor. When the cost of the materials used for the project is factored in, this number is bound to rise. Below is a list of estimated hourly labor costs of various home improvement contractors in Minnesota:

$18 - $50
HVAC contractors
$23 - $34
Insulation installation/repair contractors
$18 - $28
Concrete contractors
$29 - $40
Masonry contractors
$21 - $32
Flooring contractors
$20 - $25
Drywall installation/repair contractors
$22 - $41
Interior finishing contractors
$10 - $31
Landscaping contractors
$10 - $21
Plumbing contractors
$12 - $47
$9 - $24
$15 - $34
Security installation contractors
$24 - $33
Domestic services contractors
$9 - $44
Roofing contractors
$10 - $53

Hiring a home improvement contractor in Minnesota usually requires you to sign a written contract. As such, it is a safe idea to hire an attorney to help you review this contract, especially where there are parts of the agreement that seem unclear to you. Attorneys in Minnesota usually bill anywhere between $80 and $800 per hour depending on the attorney’s reputation and complexity of the task.

What Are Home Improvement
Scams in Minnesota State?

Home improvement scams in Minnesota State refer to unethical activities carried out by unscrupulous contractors to defraud homeowners. Perpetrators of this scam will usually offer a home improvement service and then run off with their client’s money, leaving the work undone. Sometimes they may perform shoddy work or overcharge for the job.

To avoid falling for a home improvement scam in Minnesota, do not rush the process of selecting a contractor. You should carefully research and vet any contractor or business before allowing them to work on your home improvement project. Ask for license information, whether the contractor is bonded, and verify information provided by the contractor by contacting the Department of Labour and Industry. The Department also receives complaints of instances of home improvement scams from the public. You can file complaints either online or by mailing a completed complaint form to:

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

You can also file a complaint by emailing dli.contractor@state.mn.us or by calling (651) 284-5069 or (800) 342-5354.

Note that despite taking care in selecting a contractor and writing a contract, you may sometimes end up with an unsatisfactory job, or the contractor may not complete the work. If either of these occurs, the first step is to take legal action and obtain a judgment against the contractor. Then if you are unable to recover money from the contractor, you can still seek compensation through the Contractor Recovery Fund (CRF) so long as the contractor is licensed in Minnesota. During the 2018 fiscal year, homeowners filed 83 claims for CRF payment, and payment was approved for 72 of them. Aggrieved homeowners can apply for the fund by following the instructions on the application packet. For more inquiries on the CRF, query the Department of Labour and Industry by calling (651) 284-5057.

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What are Common Home Improvement Scams in Minnesota State?

Scammers in Minnesota use a variety of techniques to defraud homeowners. These home improvement scammers often lurk around elderly residents, who are considered to be easy targets. During the 2018 fiscal year alone, homeowners in Minnesota filed a total of 83 claims requesting payment for unscrupulous contractor practices, such as conversion of funds and failure to perform, under the Contractor Recovery Fund. Here are some of the common home improvement scams in Minnesota:

  • Driveway Pavement Scams: this scam is usually directed at homeowners whose driveways are older, unpaved, or cracked. The fraudsters try to persuade the homeowner by suggesting that their driveway should look more like that of a neighbor’s or that repairing the driveway would raise the property’s worth.
  • Security Alarm Scams: traveling sales crews come to Minnesota every summer to sell security alarms and monthly monitoring subscriptions. Scammers may gain patronage by claiming that the alarm is free, discounted, or that they are affiliated with the homeowner's current alarm company. They may also frighten customers by discussing crime in the area, then ask the homeowners to sign a contract with a small print that is difficult to read. In some cases, people may have signed contracts requiring payments of an excessive amount of money for a security alarm that does not work or that they do not need.

In addition to these common scams, fraudulent contractors generally offer their services door to door and claim to have leftover materials they completed nearby. They also try to pressure homeowners to make a hasty decision before they have time to shop around, claiming that the “bargain” offer is only available if the homeowner acts quickly. The scammer may then skip town after receiving payment, refuse to honor the deal, perform shoddy work, or stick the homeowner with an inflated bill. Below are tips that can help you reduce the chances of falling for a home improvement scam in Minnesota:

  • Be wary of pressure tactics used by improvement scams to trick you into acting on the spot before you have time to shop around. Legitimate companies would usually allow you time to think about the offer, research your options, and shop around. As such, it is reasonable to be suspicious of a contractor that solicits work door-to-door, pressures you to make an immediate decision, or requires you to pay cash in advance
  • Ask for the contractor’s license number and contact information and verify them with your local government or with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry by phoning (651) 284-5069 or (800) 342-5354 or by email
  • Be wary of contractors that provide incomplete information or drive unmarked cars or trucks
  • Take your time and shop around. Try to get estimates for your home improvement project from at least two to three contractors. Comparing these bids can give you an idea of a reasonable range of materials and fees your work should require
  • Make sure estimates and contracts are put in writing. It is a good idea to seek the help of an attorney in reviewing your home improvement contract before you sign it
  • Always prioritize your safety. It is not a good idea to let a person soliciting repair work door to door inside your home. Scammers can be very aggressive. If you let them inside your home, they may refuse to leave until you sign a contract
  • Trust your gut. If you have an uneasy feeling about a contractor, refrain from further discussions. The longer you allow a scammer to talk to you, the better their chances to persuade you.
  • Be aware that you can cancel a contract you entered outside the contractor’s place of business within three days of signing it. Therefore, if you have any doubts about your prospective contractor, do not hesitate to exercise your cancel option
  • Do not make large upfront payments. Although a down payment is customary, Minnesota does not have a law that limits the amount of money a home improvement contractor can receive as an initial payment. A down payment should not be more than a modest percentage of the total job
  • Include a holdback clause in your contract that allows you to withhold certain payments until sometime after the job is completed, allowing you time to inspect the job thoroughly.

Between January and March 2021, the Department of Labour and Industry imposed fines ranging from $3,000 to $18,000 on over 20 companies that engaged in unlicensed contractor activities. Similar penalties were also imposed on construction companies that misclassify their employees as independent contractors in order to substantially reduce the company’s potential liabilities to clients. If you suspect a home improvement scam is occurring in your neighborhood, or you are a victim of one, promptly notify your local law enforcement, file a residential building contractor complaint to the Minnesota Department of Labour and Industry, or report to the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General at

  • Office of Minnesota Attorney General
  • 445 Minnesota Street
  • Suite 1400
  • St. Paul, MN 55101
  • Phone: (651) 296-3353 (Twin Cities Calling Area)
  • Phone: (800) 657-3787 (Outside the Twin Cities)
  • Phone: (800) 627-3529 (Minnesota Relay)

What are Disaster Scams in Minnesota State?

The need for urgent repairs during the aftermath of floods, fire, hurricanes, or other disasters can make homeowners vulnerable, creating opportunities for fraudulent contractors to prey on them. Dishonest contractors perpetuate post-disaster scams by offering to do repairs and then requesting an upfront payment. Once they receive the upfront payment, they will usually ditch the job or do a shoddy job that a legitimate contractor will often redo. To avoid falling for post-disaster scam in Minnesota, it is a good idea to refrain from doing business with contractors that:

  • Solicits door-to-door
  • Demands cash payment for services
  • Requires you to sign confusing papers
  • Promises to solve all your problems
  • Claim they can do the job cheaply because they have supplies leftover from another job
  • Do not provide you with a written estimate, contract, or references
  • Uses high-pressure sales tactics in an attempt to rush your decision
  • Asks for a sizeable down payment

Below are other tips for hiring a contractor in a post-disaster situation to reduce your chances of falling for a scam.

  • Do not rush post-disaster repairs, no matter how urgent they are
  • Make sure your contractor of interest is licensed. Contact the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, Construction Codes, and Licensing Division at (651) 284-5012 or (800) 657-3944 to confirm the contractor’s license information. Also, confirm with your municipal authority if the contractor has the requisite local license
  • Ensure you take time to research the contractor, check references, compare bids, and look at the company’s work for other customers. You can also use the Better Business Bureau to find out if there have been complaints made about the contractor
  • Once you have selected a contractor, make sure all agreed terms are included in a written contract
  • Avoid making final payment until the work is completed
  • Report disaster scams to the Minnesota Attorney General.

What are Common Legal
Work Scams in Minnesota State?

Legal work scams in Minnesota are schemes perpetrated by unscrupulous attorneys or con artists claiming to be licensed attorneys, to defraud people. In some cases, these scammers also target licensed attorneys. Some types of legal work scams in Minnesota are:

  • Jury duty scams: this scam involves fraudsters disguising themselves as law enforcement or court officials and contacting unsuspecting Minnesotans to threaten them with fines, prosecution, or prison term for failing to report to jury duty. These scammers usually target elderly citizens and aim to coerce them into making payments or providing personal information.
  • Attorney impersonation scams: some con artists exploit the goodwill of legitimate businesses to perpetuate their deceptive practice. These scammers contact their targets by posing as reputable law firms or attorneys offering to represent them in their legal matters. Victims of this scam usually end up paying attorney-related costs such as initial consultation fees and retainers before realizing that they have been defrauded
  • Attorney trust account scams: these fraudulent schemes target lawyers, law firms, and the financial institutions where the attorneys hold their client trust accounts. To perpetuate this scam, the scammers usually contact the attorney on matters that typically require the receipt of funds into an attorney's trust account, such as real estate transactions and commercial debt collection. The scammer then makes arrangements to deposit money to the attorney’s trust account via check. After the check has been deposited, the scammer then asks the attorney to wire the funds from the account before the check has been cleared. Such checks are usually fraudulent and would be returned by the bank; meanwhile, the scammer would have already debited the lawyer's trust account.

To avoid becoming a victim of a legal work scam, take the following precautions:

  • Never give out personal information to anyone that contacts you and claims to be a court official
  • Be mindful that a court would never ask a law enforcement official to seek a fine from you if you fail to show up for jury duty. Therefore, if you receive a suspicious phone call of this nature, hang up and promptly report the call to your local Sheriff’s Office.
  • Confirm from the relevant court whether you truly missed a jury duty
  • Be wary of unsolicited calls or messages from persons that claim to be attorneys or professional document preparers
  • Use the Minnesota Supreme Court attorney search portal to confirm that your lawyer is licensed. Also, use the Minnesota Lawyer Public Decision Search to check for the attorney’s disciplinary record
  • File a complaint concerning any suspected legal work scams with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office. You can also report an attorney’s unprofessional activities to the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board (LPRB) of the Minnesota Supreme Court online, or by submitting a completed complaint form via email or mail-in to:
  • Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility
  • 445 Minnesota Street
  • Suite 2400
  • St. Paul, MN 55101-2139
  • Phone: (651) 296-3952

How Long Does it Take to Get a Contractor License in
Minnesota State?

The processing time associated with obtaining a contractor license in Minnesota largely depends on the authority granting the license and the accuracy of the application. Licenses issued by the Department of Labour and Industry take approximately seven to ten business days for processing so far as the application is approved. Incomplete or defective applications increase the processing time. In the meantime, applicants can use the Department’s License Lookup to track the progress of their application. Also, note that if a qualifying person does not pass the pre-licensing examination, the person must wait for 30 days before reapplying to take the exam. Where a municipal contractor license is required, applicants should also contact their municipal authority to confirm how long it takes to issue the license.

How to Maintain Your License in Minnesota State

Contractors in Minnesota are required to do certain things to maintain their license. This includes completing 14 hours of approved continuing education courses every two years and updating changes to license information such as business name and address changes as well as changes in their insurance and bonding status. The Department of Labor and Industry provides relevant instructions online for contractors that wish to perform any of these actions. Note that contractors are required to notify the department in writing within 15 days when any of these changes occur.

Similarly, Minnesota-licensed attorneys on active status must complete at least 45 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) every three years to maintain their license. Attorneys can also update their contact information. This can be done by either using the Minnesota Lawyer Registration System, by completing the Minnesota Judicial Branch’s Technical Support Form online or by informing the Clerk of the Minnesota Appellate Court of such change via mail at:

  • Clerk of the Appellate Courts
  • 25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
  • Suite 305
  • St. Paul, MN 55155

How to Renew a Contractor License in
Minnesota State

Contractor licenses issued by the Minnesota Department of Labour and Industry are valid for two years, after which they will be due for renewal. License renewal is available 60 days before the general expiration date. Interested persons can renew their contractor licenses online. Renewals can also be done by completing the relevant forms and submitting them in person or via mail-in to:

  • Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry
  • Construction Codes and Licensing Division
  • Licensing and Certification Services
  • 443 Lafayette Road North
  • St. Paul, MN 55155

Mailing Address:

  • P.O. Box 64217
  • St. Paul, MN 55164-0217

Queries concerning license renewal can be directed to the Department of Labor and Industry at (651) 284-5034 or via email. Likewise, you can contact the relevant municipal authority for information about municipal license renewals.

Similarly, the Lawyers Registration Office of the Minnesota Supreme Court requires attorneys to pay an annual registration fee to keep their license valid. Payment of the fee can be made online on the Minnesota Lawyer Portal by either electronic fund transfer or using a credit card. Payments can also be made by mailing either cash or money orders and checks made payable to the Minnesota Supreme Court along with a completed and signed registration statement to:

  • Minnesota Supreme Court
  • Lawyer Registration Office
  • 180 East 5th Street
  • Suite 950
  • St. Paul, MN 55101

Queries concerning Minnesota attorney license renewals can be made to the Lawyer Registration Office at (651) 296-2254 or by email.

Cities in Minnesota