Energy Tips: Selecting a contractor for home improvement projects

By KBJR News 1

Credit: County Properties

Energy Tips: Selecting a contractor for home improvement projects

November 1, 2013 Updated Nov 1, 2013 at 11:37 AM CST

Selecting a Contractor for Home Energy Improvement Projects
Minnesota Department of Commerce

Whether addressing air leakage and insulation issues, replacing your heating or AC system, or installing a solar energy system, selecting a contractor for a home energy improvement job should be treated like any major purchase. Be precise about the job expectations and the products and services being purchased and be diligent in checking the credentials and integrity of your contractor.

Identify several potential hires for your job via usual sources such as the Internet, Yellow Pages, word of mouth, friends, professional associations, etc., and get bids from at least three contractors.

Check with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry to make sure the contractor is licensed (if licensure is required) and check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints or actions against the contractor.

Get references and check out online consumer rating services to learn what others have to say about particular contractors.

Tips on bids and contracts:
• Only review bids that are in writing and include detailed information about the project.
• Be sure you are getting what you expect.
• Don’t be misled by “sales” or “deals” that are available “for a limited time only.”
• Contractors should apply for permits and are responsible for meeting building codes and arranging inspections.
• Learn about the “Three-Day Cooling Off Law” that gives you the right to cancel within 72 hours of signing a contract. Don’t provide a check or down payment until this period has ended.
• Require lien waivers from all suppliers and subcontractors.
• Make sure the job is completed, including all inspections and cleanup, before making final payment.

For more on selecting a contractor, see the “Home Envelope” energy guide (pages 40-41) or the “Citizen’s Guide to Home Building and Remodeling" a publication from the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.