Skip to main content

Choosing a contractor

In Minnesota, building permits can be issued to either a licensed contractor or to the homeowner.

Does it matter who applies for my building permit?

If you decide to apply for the permit yourself, you will be acting as an "owner/builder." And by taking out an owner/builder permit, you become the general contractor.

You assume all the legal liabilities for the job, including workers' compensation insurance, state and federal withholding taxes, permits, planning, supervision, problem solving, and scheduling inspections. And if the work done by your contractor fails to meet code, the City has no choice but issue you an order to correct the code violations.

Unless you have the time, talent, and experience to handle the work associated with a construction project, it is best to hire a licensed contractor.

Do contractors need to be licensed?

Minnesota law requires that most residential building contractors, remodelers, roofers and manufactured-home installers obtain state licenses. Specialty contractors who perform only one special skill (for example: concrete and masonry, excavation, carpentry or interior finishing) are exempt from state licensing. The intent of state licensing is to ensure a minimum level of competency and to provide consumer protection.

To help with consumer protection, licensed contractors and remodelers must contribute to the Contractor's Recovery Fund. This fund reimburses more than $1 million each year to Minnesota homeowners who obtain a court judgment against a licensed contractor and are unable to collect on that judgment. Home owners who use unlicensed contractors forfeit their rights to access this fund.

Licensed roofers and manufactured-home installers do not participate in the Contractor Recovery Fund, but instead are required to have surety bonds.

You can find more information about the Contractor Recovery Fund at the following Web page:

Does my contractor have a state license?

Contractors must include their license numbers on their advertising, business cards, contracts, proposals, vehicles, and permit applications.

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry licenses and regulates contractors. You can check a contractor's license status on this Web page:

I have a concern about a contractor. Where can I turn?

You can discuss complaints about contractors informally with a Department of Labor and Industry investigator by calling 651-284-5069. You'll need to submit a written complaint in order to open a formal investigation.