“We must all hang together, or assuredly we will all hang separately.” Benjamin Franklin (1776)
On July 4, 1776, at the time the Declaration of Independence was signed, Benjamin Franklin gave the above commentary on the forthcoming American Revolution. Renovation contractors are likewise at an historic dividing line at whether the industry continues to flourish or dies at the hands of the insurance industry.
First, a little history. Since at least 2007, there has been a wholesale attack on the exterior renovation industry practices as we know it. That year saw the enactment of the independent contractor exemption law (ICEC) and the strengthening of customer remedies under the required statutory warranty. The following year saw a major modification to the EPA lead rule to be effective in 2010. 2009 saw a subcontractor Bill of Rights enacted that required prompt payment to subcontractors or severe penalties would attach, a requirement that the statutory warranty be provided in writing with the customer contract, and a strengthening of the ICEC law. The EPA lead rule was again changed in 2010 to eliminate certain opt out provisions, the ICEC law was again strengthened, the Minnesota Department of Commerce issued Bulletin 2010-4 preventing contractors from assisting their customers in storm related insurance loss claims, rebating deductibles on roofing claims became illegal, and a new 72 hour notice of cancellation was required on residential insurance loss construction contracts. This year, saw the addition of an unspecified performance guideline requirement, EPA certification for pre-1978 housing renovation, the adoption of the EPA rule into Minnesota law, a requirement that statutory warranty claims be arbitrated at the expense of the contractor and the customer, the prohibition on giving anything of value to a residential roofing or siding insurance claim storm loss customer as an inducement to contracting, and the extension of fall protection requirements to residential roofing. Finally, it has been rumored that the insurance industry intends to further limit the role of renovation contractors in the storm loss claim process in the upcoming legislative session.
So, like Paul Revere at the start of the American Revolution, I implore you: “the insurers are coming, the insurers are coming!” And like Benjamin Franklin quoted above, renovation contractors can choose to hang together or hang separately. To hang together, the Minnesota Association of Exterior Specialists (MNAES) was established in the spring of 2009 in response to severely delayed payment of insurance loss settlement funds to contractors. The organization, founded at the Kelly Inn next to the Minnesota State Capital, began with much excitement and involvement by the exterior renovation industry. Since that time, the organization has dwindled down to a committed core who rightfully believes that the exterior renovation industry in Minnesota needs a common voice and ability to counteract the forces aligned against it and to promote the best practices that most in the industry strive to uphold.
On October 24, 2011, at the Mermaid Event Center beginning at 10:30 AM, MNAES will hold a reorganization rally, luncheon seminar, and fundraiser. The cost to attend will be minimal, $20 for members and $40 for nonmembers. The benefit of the event will be a showing to the world that Minnesota’s exterior renovation contractors stand together. If you are a Minnesota renovation contractor or industry representative, you should attend this event. If you fail to do so, you have stood on the sidelines against attacks on your industry, your business, and your livelihood. You will, therefore, have no one to blame but yourself for losing the battle against these forces that beset you.