Do you have any references?
There has to be a "first job" for everyone, but if that builder tells you he/she has been in business for years, but cannot give you a reference list, then walk away. It is very important to do your homework! There are many companies to choose from and some attempt to take advantage of a situation and make a quick buck and provide zero quality. Choose the company that has had repeat customers, is loyal, honest and trustworthy. The bottom dollar estimate is not always the right way to go, you usually get what you pay for.
What is your square foot price to build a home?
This is the most debatable question there is! Square foot price will vary greatly depending upon styles, materials, brands etc. For example, a square foot price will change dramatically depending on what type of counter tops are choosen, laminate? or granite? Or what type of flooring, hardwood? or tile? $0.99 sq/ft tile or $9.99 sq/ft tile? It is very difficult to compare "square foot" price estimates between contractors. Chances are you are not getting an apples for apples estimate. Do NOT get caught up in trying to figure out square foot pricing.
Do you have insurance?
There are two insurance policies a contractor needs to show proof of when applying for his/her MN residential contractor license. The first is a Workers' Compensation policy. The Minnesota Workers' Compensation Law states that all employers are required to purchase workers' compensation insurance or become self-insured. If an employee is injured, work comp insurance provides them with medical treatment, payment for lost time and disability, and re-employment assistance if needed. The second policy is general liability insurance. This policy is a contractual relationship between a contractor and an insurance carrier to reimburse a third party (such as the homeowner) for property damage or personal injury loss caused by the contractor. The general liability does not cover faulty work or construction defects. Hiring someone without these policies could result in the homeowner to be responsible for any accidents and related expenses.
What should I be asking each "contractor" I interview for my project?
A few key questions to ask could be:
Are you licensed?
It is very easy to find out if a contractor/business is licensed. Go to www.dli.mn.gov/CCLD/RBC.asp and on the left hand side click on contractor license search and type in the name of the company. If there are multiple results for that name click on the detail button on the left and it will show the contact information which should match up with the person you are considering for your project. If you hire an unlicensed contractor, you will not have access to the Contractor Recovery Fund. This is a fund that all licensedcontractors pay into and it is used to compensate consumers who suffer a loss due to the contractors actions.