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State officials to survey Clarks Grove damage

Homeowners advised to do their homework before hiring contractors

Building officials from around the state will be in Clarks Grove today to provide on-site damage assessments following the Monday tornado, according to a news release.

Representatives from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry’s Construction Codes and Licensing Division and other municipal inspectors will assess structural integrity of wind-damaged buildings.

“We want to ensure the residents of Clarks Grove get the assistance they need,” said Ken Peterson, Department of Labor and Industry commissioner. “Our goal is to help the city inform its residents about what they must do to repair and reoccupy their homes and businesses.”

Because many buildings may be damaged during a tornado, teams of qualified volunteers — usually building inspectors from surrounding communities — often assist municipalities after a disaster. They assist the local building official by assessing damage inflicted on each structure and continue to assist the community through the process of rebuilding.

Code officials place damage-assessment placards on structures and write reports classifying the extent of damage for each property and its suitability or occupancy. They also provide information to property owners about repairs and available assistance.

The Department of Labor and Industry reminds homeowners to do some homework before hiring a building contractor.

After neighborhoods experience property damage, homeowners may find sales people going door to door soliciting repair work.

Before signing any document, homeowners should call the Department of Labor and Industry at 651-284-5069 or go online to verify the contractor is licensed and to learn if the contractor has a history of disciplinary action. Homeowners should also check with the Better Business Bureau and check for lawsuits or judgments involving the company or its owners.

Homeowners are cautioned not to sign anything presented by a contractor unless the document is read very carefully and the homeowner has made a firm decision to hire that contractor. In most cases, if a homeowner signs a piece of paper it is a contract, regardless of what the salesperson says, and the homeowner is then obligated to use the contractor for all repairs approved by the homeowner’s insurance company.

Contractors cannot offer to pay the homeowner’s insurance deductible because state law prohibits contractors from doing so or offering any compensation as an incentive to hire them to perform storm repair services.

Before hiring a contractor, homeowners should ask the following:

For the contractor’s license number. Verify the builder is licensed and determine if the contractor has a disciplinary history.

How long the person has been in business and where they have done work.

For references to see if people have been satisfied with their work.

For a local phone number and a Minnesota business address other than a post office box.