Always check to see if the contractor you are considering, local or transient, is licensed in the state in which work will be performed. Contact the appropriate governmental agency: North Dakota Secretary of State's office at (701) 328-3665 or the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry at (651) 284-5034 or (651) 284-5069 to verify the builder is currently licensed and to find out if he or she has a disciplinary history. The status of a contractor's license can also be verified online for North Dakota and Minnesota!
Is he or she a member of a trade association such as the Home Builders Association of F-M? Generally, members of a trade association see a need to stay abreast of current industry developments and care about giving back to their industry. Click here to search the HBA's up-to-date online member directory.
Get more than one estimate and be wary of any contractor that requires full payment up front, uses high-pressure sales tactics or asks you to sign authorization paperwork or a contract that you don't understand. Consider paying with a credit card since these companies have better methods of remedying disputes and dealing with fraudulent charges.
Get a detailed contract including a summary of the work to be done, a description of materials, the total contract price or how the price will be calculated and specific timelines. Do not sign it until you are comfortable.
Ask the contractor how long and where he or she has been in business.
Request references and check with former customers to see if they were satisfied with the work.
Ask for a local business address, other than a post office box, and a local phone number where the contractor can be reached during normal business hours. Some transient companies will open a post office box or can easily acquire a cell phone with a local number to give the appearance of being a local company, when it is not.
Ask about warranty work and the company's service policies.
Find out if the contractor has sufficient workers compensation and general liability insurance. If not, you may be liable for any construction-related accidents on your premises.
Lastly, make sure you can communicate with the contractor and feel comfortable with him or her. Misunderstandings during the course of the project can lead to cost overruns and delays.