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Home Building and Remodeling

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Glossary

Building Official: The person designated by a municipality to administer and enforce the State Building Code within the municipality.

Building Permit: A required permit issued by a building official or municipality to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish, or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert, or replace any gas, mechanical, electrical, plumbing system, or other equipment. The work for which a building permit is required is typically subject to inspection and approval by the building official after completion.

Mechanic’s Lien: A legal right that may be exercised by contractors, subcontractors, and materials suppliers to take possession of a home or property for nonpayment of labor or materials that improved the home or property (See Minn. Stat. §514.01).

Residential Building Contractor: A person or company in the business of building residential real estate, or of contracting or offering to contract with an owner to build residential real estate, by providing two or more “special skills” (See Minn. Stat. § 326B.802, subds. 11 & 15). Residential building contractors must have a license to operate in Minnesota.

Residential Real Estate: A new or existing building constructed for habitation by one to four families, as well as detached garages (See Minn. Stat. § 326B.802, subd. 13).

Residential Remodeler: A person or company in the business of contracting or offering to contract with an owner to improve existing residential real estate by providing two or more “special skills,” (See Minn. Stat. § 326B.802, subds. 12 & 15). Residential remodelers must have a license to operate in Minnesota.

Residential Roofer: A person or company in the business of contracting, or offering to contract with an owner, to complete work on residential real estate in roof coverings, roof sheathing, roof weatherproofing and insulation, and repair of roof systems, but not construction of new roof systems (See Minn. Stat. § 326B.802, subd. 14). Residential roofers must have a license to operate in Minnesota.

Special Skill: A statutorily defined term related to whether a contractor must be licensed. The following eight categories are “special skills” under Minn. Stat. §326B.802, subd. 15:

Specialty Contractor: A person or company in the business of contracting or offering to contract to build or improve residential real estate by providing only one “special skill” in every contract with a homeowner (See Minn. Stat. § 326B.802, subd. 16). Specialty contractors are not required to be licensed to operate in Minnesota so long as they stick to one “special skill.”

State Building Code: The rules and regulations adopted by the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry to govern the construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, and use of certain buildings and structures. The code represents the minimum construction and building requirements to safeguard the public health, safety, and welfare at the least possible cost (See Minn. Stat. § 326B.01-.16).

Statutory Warranties: Warranties that must be given as a matter of law by contractors to consumers in the sale of a new home or in the contract for the sale of home improvement work involving major structural changes or additions to a residential building. These warranties range from one to ten years and relate to defects due to noncompliance with the State Building Code (See Minn. Stat. §§ 327A.01-.08).

Subcontractor: A person or company hired by a general contractor to complete a portion of a construction project for which the general contractor is responsible. Subcontractors are typically paid directly by the general contractor from payments made to the general contractor by the homeowner, although, in some cases, the homeowner may wish to consider paying the subcontractor directly to avoid the subcontractor filing a mechanic’s lien action. A subcontractor is not required to be licensed as a residential building contractor, residential remodeler, or residential roofer.


Referral Guide

Minnesota Attorney General’s Office

The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office answers consumer questions, mediates consumer complaints to resolve disputes between Minnesota consumers and businesses, and enforces the State’s civil laws. Staff can answer questions and provide consumer publications about landlord and tenant rights, mobile homes, mortgages, cars, credit, scams, unwanted mail and phone calls, and other consumer issues. For further information, or to file a complaint, contact:

Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1400
St. Paul, MN 55101
(651) 296-3353 (Twin Cities Calling Area)
(800) 657-3787 (Outside the Twin Cities)
TTY: (651) 297-7206 or TTY: (800) 366-4812

Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry

If you want information about a licensed contractor, or wish to check whether a contractor is licensed, contact:

Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry
Construction Codes and Licensing Division
443 Lafayette Road North
St. Paul, MN 55155
(651) 284-5005 or (800) 657-3944
www.doli.state.mn.govexternal link icon

You can also file a complaint about licensed contractors or unlicensed activity. Your complaint will be assigned to an investigator. The contractor will be contacted and asked for a timely written response to your complaint. Because a copy of your complaint will be forwarded to the contractor, do not include statements or other information in your complaint that you do not want the contractor to see. The investigator will decide whether the department will take administrative disciplinary action against the contractor. You will be notified in writing when the investigation is done. Send a written complaint, clearly detailing the problem and attaching copies of contracts, canceled checks, or any pertinent document or evidence, to the Department of Labor and Industry at the address listed above.

City of Minneapolis

For questions about contractors licensed by the City of Minneapolis, contact:

City of Minneapolis
250 South 4th Street, Room 300
Minneapolis, MN 55415
(612) 673-3000
www.minneapolismn.gov/mdr/mdr_findliccont_indexexternal link icon

Board of Architecture

If you are considering hiring a contractor who purports to provide design or architectural services, contact the Board of Architecture, Engineering, Land Surveying, Landscape Architecture, Geoscience, and Interior Design to make sure the contractor is licensed to do this type of work:

Board of Architecture, Engineering, Land Surveying,
Landscape Architecture, Geoscience and Interior Design

85 East 7th Place, Suite 160
St. Paul, MN 55101
(651) 296-2388
mn.gov/aelslagidexternal link icon

Better Business Bureau

To find out if other consumers have filed complaints against a contractor, contact:

Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota
220 South River Ridge Circle
Burnsville, MN 55337
(651) 699-1111 or (800) 646-6222
www.bbb.orgexternal link icon

Builders Association of Minnesota

There are 15 local builder associations in Minnesota. Contact your local association directly for more information about member contractors. To determine your local association, contact:

Builders Association of Minnesota
525 Park Street, Suite 150
St. Paul, MN 55103
(651) 646-7959 or (800) 654-7783
www.bamn.orgexternal link icon