Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Building officials volunteer to provide disaster assistance to Clarks Grove, Minnesota


State and local building officials have responded to a request from the city of Clarks Grove, Minnesota, to help perform on-site damage assessments after the March 6 tornado.

Building code representatives from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry's (DLI's) Construction Codes and Licensing Division (CCLD) and other municipal inspectors will be on site March 9 to assess the structural integrity of wind-damaged buildings.

"We want to ensure the residents of Clarks Grove get the assistance they need," said Ken Peterson, DLI 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 for occupancy. They also provide information to property owners about repairs and available assistance.

Contractors need state license; homeowners cautioned about signing documents

DLI also reminds homeowners to do some homework before hiring a building contractor. After neighborhoods experience property damage, homeowners may find salespeople going door to door soliciting repair work.

Before signing any document, homeowners should call DLI at (651) 284-5069 or go online to DLI's License Lookup search 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. Generally speaking, if a homeowner signs a piece of paper it is a contract, regardless of what the salesperson says; 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. State law prohibits contractors from paying deductibles or offering any compensation as an incentive to hire them to perform storm repair services.

Before hiring a contractor, DLI suggests homeowners ask:

• for the contractor's license number and then contact DLI's CCLD Enforcement unit to verify the builder is currently licensed and to determine if the contractor has a disciplinary history;

• the contractor how long and where they have been in business;

• for references and check with former customers to see if they were satisfied with the work; and

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


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