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What To Do If A Contractor Rips You Off

As we have discussed in previous blogs, remodeling projects are a process.  Seeking reparations from a contractor who did you wrong is also a process – one in which persistence pays off when it comes to getting your money back!

First and foremost, attempt to work directly with your contractor to settle any dispute.  An honest and upfront approach will often help to remedy the situation.  However, if this fails contact the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industries (DLI) to file a complaint.  All complaints filed with the DLI must be submitted in writing.  Below is an expert from the DLI website on how to file a complaint.

Complaints must be submitted in writing before an investigation can begin. Use the Consumer Complaint form to help you get started. Be sure to provide the details of the dispute and include as many facts as possible, as well as what you would like the contractor to do to resolve your complaint.

  • Include a daytime phone number and your mailing address on the form.
  • Attach copies of any documents to support your complaint, such as contracts or purchase agreements, canceled checks, correspondence, municipal correction notices, mechanic’s lien statements, etc., to the form.

The department will send a copy of your complaint to the contractor, so do not include statements or other information you do not want the contractor to see.

Mail written complaints to:
Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry
Residential Building Contractors
443 Lafayette Road N.
St. Paul, MN 55155

You may also file a complaint by:

  • emailing the division at dli.contractor@state.mn.us; or
  • Calling the Department of Labor and Industry at (651) 284-5069 or 1-800-342-5354.

For additional details about filing a complaint, visit www.dli.mn.gov.

An alternative to working through the DLI would be to hire a private attorney.  However, either approach can be frustrating and angst-ridden for the homeowner.  With that in mind, we urge caution when starting any new home project.  Remodeling is exciting (we wouldn’t be doing what we do if we didn’t agree!) but try to avoid getting caught up in the exhilaration and desire to start immediately.  Instead, take the time to meet with a variety of contractors and find the one that is best for you!

Below is some information to keep in mind when hiring a contractor:

  • CONTRACT – A written contract is required for all jobs, small and large
  • PROPOSAL – Get everything in writing.  This includes a detailed proposal listing the scope of work, what is included, and the costs for work.
  • CHANGE ORDERS – Ask the contractor if he/she expects any change orders.  What do they expect to find behind walls when opened up?  With experience comes knowledge; an experienced remodeler will be able to give an educated guess on what they might find and what additional costs could be incurred.
  • SCHEDULE –
    • What is the timeframe for the remodel?  Get a schedule in advance. 
    • How many jobs does the company have going on at any one time?
    • Who is the project manager?
  • COMMUNICATION – What is the policy for returning phone calls/emails?  We return phone calls within four business hours.  Emails are returned within 24 business hours.  At Excel Builders, we believe and appreciate talking with our clients.  Emails and text messaging have their place.  However, important information is often lost in emails and texts.  Therefore, our preferred method of communication includes telephone calls and face-to-face meetings. 
  • DELAYS – How are delays handled?

While completing a remodel is a long project, finding a solid partner in the form of your contractor can help to make the process significantly smoother!

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