Planning a project?

There are two essential elements to a project going well: Good planning and good partners. To provide both of those, we’ve constructed useful planning tools and answered common building questions to get your project started out right.

1. What to Ask
  • Should I build it myself or hire a contractor?

    Ask yourself these questions before deciding if you’ll do it yourself or hire out.

    Job Costs

    • Do you have the final completed price guaranteed in writing before starting?
    • How do you handle cost overruns?

    Note: In most cases, a professional builder will have a final written quote for you to sign. Meaning no surprises.


    • Are your deposits to sub-trades protected for you?
    • How many separate sub-trade deposits are required?


    • How much personal experience do you have in the construction process?
    • Do you have the ability to recognize and stop potential problem areas as they occur?
    • Can you devote three to four months to daytime supervision? Will your own job suffer?
    • What is your personal knowledge of the Residential Building Code?

    Note: Ask for references on your builder. Call your local Home Builders Association for direction and booklets on how to proceed. They would be pleased to help.

    Legal Contracts

    • Have you prepared legal contracts to protect your interest with every sub-trade?
    • Are you protected against schedule delays?


    • Are your sub-trades insured themselves? Do you have proof of that insurance?
    • Do you have fire and damage coverage?
    • Are you insured against sub-trade injuries on your job site?

    Note: You and your family could face financial ruin due to a job site injury.


    • What criteria do you use to hire them?
    • Are you protected if they don’t show up?
    • What guarantee do you have that they will show up after they are paid?
    • Do you have a list of their past references?
    • What is the policy and cost if you wish to make changes as your job progresses?

    Note: Professional builders use proven sub-trades that do the job right the first time and do it on schedule.


    • You have no warranty on a job you subcontracted yourself. Imagine no warranty on basement leaks, electrical, plumbing, roofing problems, etc.

    Note: Professional builders registered with the state must provide minimum state-required warranties.


    • Have you discussed your plans to sub-contract your new home with your bank first?
    • What policy will be used to advance funds?
    • Will the bank require extra collateral?
    • Will the bank require their own inspections?
    • How will the bank handle your cost overruns?

    Note: The process of financing your new home is easier and faster using a professional builder with a quoted contract price. Ask your branch manager.

    Selling Your Home

    • Will the potential purchaser pay more for a novice built home or one built by a reputable builder?

    Note: If your home was built by a reputable builder, the consumer will be more confident about its quality, removing that obstacle during their purchase process. Your return on home investment dollars can easily be higher using a professional builder.

  • Is it true that the builder adds excessive profits to the subtotal of the home cost?


  • Is it true that professional builders get better deals from subcontractors than I would on my own?


  • Where can I find useful building links?
  • Where do I begin?
    1. Collect ideas and information.
    2. Establish your wants and needs.
    3. Determine your budget. Bring your priorities to your bank and discuss what is possible.
    4. Take time to review your project.
    5. Find a qualified licensed builder. (That’s us.)
  • How much do you charge per square foot for new construction?

    It depends on the house. We can give out a price per square foot range, but that will not tell you how much your dream home is going to cost. There are too many factors that contribute to the price of a house, such as the size of the house, the type of construction and the materials used to get an accurate price picture over the phone. Set up an appointment with us to find a quote for your specific project.

  • What should I avoid when hiring a contractor?
    • Do not hire an unlicensed contractor.
    • Avoid contractors who engage in high-pressure sales tactics.
    • Contractors who fail to obtain proper permits or insist that the homeowner get them are questionable.
    • Other warning signs include:
    • Refusing to provide their license number (if they are required to be licensed)
    • Refusing to show you proof of insurance
    • Requiring full or substantial payment before work begins
  • What do you do if you have problems with a contractor?

    Explain the building issue to your contractor in writing. If they do not correct the problem, call the Minnesota Department of Commerce Enforcement Division (1-800-657-3602). They are responsible for investigating complaints from consumers alleging violations of law and rules.

  • What should I do when hiring a contractor?
    • Hire a licensed contractor. Contact the Department of Commerce Licensing Division (1-800-657-3978) to verify licensure and to check for any sanctions against a particular contractor.
    • Contact the builder association in your area.
    • Contact the Better Business Bureau. They may be able to tell you if any complaints have been filed against the contractor.
    • Ask for references.
    • Ask your contractor: How long have they been in business? Where and under what name? Who are their subcontractors? How long have they worked together? Have they been the subject of any legal action regarding their work?
  • What should I do before I sign a construction contract?

    Make sure the contract is in writing and includes: a work summary, a list of materials or standard features included and the total cost or how costs will be calculated. Every contractor must provide a free copy of all documents when signed.

  • What should I do after I hire a contractor?

    Make sure your contractor has the proper permits.

  • What are the licensing requirements for a contractor?

    Minnesota law requires residential builders, remodelers and roofers to be licensed. It’s required for the company, but not for each employee.

    In order to obtain a license, contractors must:

    • Obtain seven hours of continuing education each year
    • Have an owner or manager pass a written exam on technical and business matters
    • Provide proof of liability and property damage insurance
    • Provide proof of worker’s comp and unemployment insurance
    • Disclose the organizational structure of the business
    • Pay a license fee and contribute to the Contractor Recovery Fund
  • How should I prepare for remodeling?
    • Leave if you can. Remodeling can be a dirty, noisy and disruptive process. Seek safe harbor away from the confusion by staying at a motel, taking refuge with a kind relative, or even moving into a travel trailer or recreational vehicle. But don’t go so far away from home that you lose touch with the project.
    • Staying home? Rearrange rooms before work begins. During a kitchen makeover, move your microwave and refrigerator to a place where they can still be used. If the water will be turned off for long periods of time, order bottled water and scout out a place for showers. A bedroom may even become a combination living room/kitchen for awhile.
    • Keep waste in its place. Work out waste logistics with your contractor before construction begins. Establish a plan for handling waste materials. Hang tarps in doorways to seal off rooms. Cover floors that need protection.
    • Defend against air pollution. When determining the timetable, pin down the periods when glues, finishes, or other odorous materials will be used. Make certain the house will be properly, even excessively, ventilated when smells are at their peak.
    • Protect your property. Cover or remove electronic equipment, fine furniture or other valuables. Keep phones out of work area.
    • Communicate with contractors. Keep the lines of communication open and stick to your plans as much as possible.

    This information is from the Builders Association of Minnesota.

2. Ideas & Inspiration

Browse our work to get ideas for your next project.

3. Start Your Plan

Step 1 of 6