Fixing Your Home After Storm Damages

Storm damages are a pain, we get it.

Last Sunday, the Brainerd Lakes Area was reminded that it’s storm and tornado season. A strong storm moved into the area producing up to softball-sized hail and funnel clouds. It then left in a wake of destruction. Trees were downed, causing major damage to houses. There was extensive hail and wind damage to exteriors. During these times, it’s important to know there are experts like us available to help you dig through your options. Not to mention, help get your home back to the way it was before.

According to Home Advisor, the average reported cost for storm damage to a home in America sits at just over $4,500. Of course, depending on the damage and what’s happened to your home, that number can be less or much, much more. At Baratto Brothers, we have the tools and experience to help you get the damage repaired in no time.

Types of Storm Damage

  • Roof Damage – The combination of strong winds and softball sized hail we had with our latest storm produced lots of damage to roof tops in the Lakes Area. Shingles peeled up, and the flashings can be damaged. Even new roofs can start to leak if these issues aren’t repaired right away.
  • Siding and Window Damage – Hail and strong winds rip or damage the siding on your home and even crack or shatter windows. After a big storm, look for missing or damaged siding, and loose metal trim and soffits. If these are left unrepaired, leaks will develop, making things much worse.
  • Deck and Porch Damage – Strong winds can rip off shingles and siding, blow over trees, and tear apart decks and porches. These types of home damage are common in strong storms. Luckily, they’re also easily repaired with the right team and tools.
  • Larger Structural Damage – Larger structural damage is typically caused by trees landing on houses and garages. Whole sections of a home can be destroyed in a single storm. Don’t be distraught, though. We can help develop an affordable plan to get your home repaired and back to its former glory.
  • Flooded Basements – Even the driest basements can be overcome in a bad storm; turning a living space into a swimming pool. The immediate issues of removing the damage and dealing with potential fungus growth can be overwhelming. Dealing with soil degradation or foundational crumbling is your biggest concern. If your foundation has these issues, it must be dealt with before the basement can be rebuilt. You’ll need a good team who understands the problems that arise with flooded basements and how to spot issues before they become major problems.
  • Foundational Issues – Even if your basement doesn’t appear to have water in the lower level, be on the lookout. Bulging walls, semi-wet carpets, or even doors that begin to stick are cause for concern. This could mean the foundation has been compromised. We can help correct the foundation, add in drain tiles, and return the stability to your home.

We’re Here to Help

If you’re in need of making home repairs due to storm damage, Baratto Brothers can help you sift through your insurance claim options. Contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help come up with an affordable plan to get everything back to the way it was. We’ll do all we can to become your Builder for Life.


8 Ways to Prep for Your Next Remodel

Remodeling an existing home can offer many advantages; from increasing the value of your home, to giving you the opportunity to transform your home over time. However, there are a lot of things to consider when preparing for your home remodel and we’d love to share some of our tips with you. If you plan on living in your home for the duration of the construction work, it’s important to know there will be plenty of upheaval. Luckily for you, we’ve got your bases covered so you won’t be completely blindsided.

  1. Get your decision hat ready. If you’re working with a construction team, from the moment you sign the paperwork, be prepared to make decisions about the direction of your remodel. This is your home, after all. You’ll be asked questions about anything from counter tops, to where electrical outlets should be placed, to colors the walls should be painted, floor coverings, and everything in between. We’ll offer advice along the way, but the decision rests with you, the home owner.
  2. And then there was dust. Quite frankly, remodeling will kick up a lot of dust and debris. Covering up furniture with tarps, sheets, or removing them all together is a way to protect them from the dust in the air. This is particularly important with electronic devices that could get clogged up, and with furniture.
  3. Move stuff out. Particularly when you have a large scale remodel happening, it’s important to consider removing items you’d rather not get damaged. If you have a crew coming in, your team will be in and out with tools, supplies, and tromping feet. As much as all contractors try to be as careful as possible, accidents do happen. Remove pictures from walls, breakable or sentimental items, and furniture from the home before work begins. Not only will it keep your stuff safe, it will open up a clearer path for your construction crew, too. This keeps everyone happy.
  4. Noises happen. If you plan on continuing life as normal while your home is under construction, be prepared for all the noises that come with power tools, demolition, and creation. For example, if you have a baby in the house, think about how this is going to affect nap schedules, etc. If you work from home, this could pose problems as well. Be prepared for a lot of noise and distractions.
  5. A word about pets. Your pet’s safety is important and with your work crew going in and and out of the home, pets can get scared, hurt, or make a grand escape. Have a plan in place in advance to kennel, crate, or enclose your pet in a room during the remodeling hours. This will ensure their safety and help keep your team focused on their task at hand.
  6. Prepare for surprises. Even in the best of circumstances, you’ll want to be prepared for surprises along the way. This is particularly true the older the home. Having extra money set aside just in case and a mindset that surprises do come up is extremely beneficial before work is started.
  7. A special note on kitchens. If you’re planning to remodel your kitchen while you’re still at home, consider how it will impact your life. Deciding where to set up a “temporary kitchen” will help you get through the transition process much more smoothly. Your crew can move your refrigerator and a microwave to another room so you can function during the remodel. Another thing to consider regarding kitchen remodels is timing. Summer kitchen remodels work much more smoothly because you can break out the grill and enjoy some time out in the yard while your kitchen is being transformed.
  8. Large remodels. If you plan on remodeling more than one room, or overhauling your whole house, staying at the residence may not be an option. This in turn has added costs beyond the work itself that you’ll need to consider. “Trying to live in a home that is being remodeled can be next to impossible so you must consider the added cost of storing your furniture and living expenses while your home is remodeled,” says owner, Jim Baratto.


If you’re looking to start a new commercial or residential construction project, renovation, or just curious about what we offer at Baratto Brothers, contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help you sift through your options, and come up with an affordable plan that delivers the results you’re looking for. We’ll do everything we can to become your Builder for Life.




OSHA and the Construction Industry

In the 1970’s, the Occupational Safety and Health Act created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, otherwise known as OSHA. Operating within the Department of Labor, OSHA’s role is to help minimize workplace hazards and implement safety and health programs. They seem to be doing a pretty good job too, considering workplace fatality rates have dropped 66% since OSHA began working with employers in the 70’s; while occupational illness and injury rates have dropped 67%. This is no small feat, considering U.S. employment has almost doubled since then.

There are a bunch of industry standards every business with one employee or more has to follow, so if you work for a business or own one, you’ve probably at least heard of OSHA. They provide a list of employer responsibilities in regards to keeping employees safe, and they give advice for employees on their rights in the workplace. It’s very likely, you’ve seen their signage up in your workplace’s break room or some other prominent location. OSHA provides very detailed regulations regarding safety standards that each business must adhere to. The construction industry is one OSHA has its eye on, as it can be a hazardous and sometimes dangerous workplace. They even list out regulations specific to construction, and inspections (both announced and unannounced) are not uncommon.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, out of the 4,251 worker fatalities in 2014, fatal work injuries involving contractors accounted for 20.5% (874). We think you’ll agree, that’s a pretty scary number. At Baratto Brothers Construction, we take OSHA’s standards and regulations very seriously. Our employees are family members, and it’s our job to protect them on every job site – and it’s not only because of the sometimes dangerous locations we have to work on; like high roof pitches and tight enclosed spaces.

The last thing any construction company would ever want is to lose an employee, but especially while on the clock. Unfortunately, it still happens. OSHA has a list of leading causes of work-related deaths for contractors, which they’ve dubbed Construction’s “Fatal Four.” According to their website, by eliminating the “Fatal Four,” 508 workers would be saved a year.

What are Construction’s “Fatal Four” exactly?

  • Falls – 349 of the 874 deaths in construction in 2014 (39.9%)
  • Electrocutions – 74 (8.5%)
  • Struck by an object – 73 (8.4%)
  • Caught-in/between – 12 (1.4%)

Much of this type of workplace tragedy can be avoided by following OSHA’s guidelines and using some common sense on both the employer and the employee. Baratto Brothers is committed to ensuring our contractors are safe and secure, and we have always done our utmost to train them on job site safety. Reducing OSHA’s numbers of workplace accidents and injuries is a priority for us and have been from day one. There’s nothing better than another great year with our employees; especially one where no one has become an OSHA workplace accident statistic.

If you’re looking to start a new commercial or residential construction project, renovation, or just curious about what we offer at Baratto Brothers, contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help you sift through your options, and come up with an affordable plan that delivers the results you’re looking for. We’ll do everything we can to become your Builder for Life.



Superior Construction Projects Happen in 3 Critical Steps

Whether commercial or residential, there are three key steps which absolutely must happen if you’re to expect a superior construction process and a successful project completion. Reaching the end of a large project like a custom built residence or a commercial building on-time and on-budget isn’t a mystery, and it doesn’t happen without proper planning. If you’re looking to start a construction project in the coming year, make sure your contractors are utilizing these three steps to success:

  1. Superior Client-Contractor Relationships – From the very first moments of project conception to the final walk-through, having all parties involved and invested is crucial to having a project run smoothly. This means contractors, subcontractors, clients, design team, etc. – everyone must be on the same page at the same time. In fact, we’d even go so far as to say this is the most important step out of all three. It can mean the difference between a construction process plagued by miscommunications, misinformed ideas, and poor planning – to one that operates smoothly from start to finish.
  2. Make Informed Decisions – When you work with a qualified, quality-driven contractor, your decisions are innately better informed through the years of experience they provide. Not all contractors are made equally, though, so the first informed decision comes from the client as they research their prospective new builders. The key behind this is not getting stuck on the initial price tag, but instead on the ways a qualified contractor will save you money in the long run.
  3. Transparency in Costs – When you have cost transparency with a project as large as commercial or residential construction, not only do you share in the risk/rewards of moving forward, but trust is built between client and contractor. It’s just one of the ways superior client-contractor relationships get built.

You don’t have to take just our word for it on these crucial steps, either. A recent study by the Charles Pankow Foundation and the Construction Industry Institute found similar results as they looked closely at over 200 capital projects to determine how best to achieve project success. While the study was geared toward integrated project delivery, its results are very applicable here.

At Baratto Brothers Construction, we’ve been building superior homes in the Brainerd Lakes Area since 2002 and we’ve extended that excellence to commercial construction in recent years. If you’re looking to build a new home or commercial project with a contractor relationship you can rely on for years to come, contact us at 218-692-1070 for a free consultation. Getting the right team on board is key to the success of your project, as we’ve discussed. We’re here to help make it as easy and stress-free as possible. It’s just one of the many ways we work hard to become your Builder for Life.

Baratto Brothers Commercial Financing Tips

Getting commercial financing for your business venture may seem a bit daunting to those who’ve never tread those waters before. In fact, just knowing when to start can be a bit of a question. Do you start early when you’re company is still in startup phase? Wait until your business is established? Do you apply before you need the funds? Or wait until there’s a pressing need?

In truth, finding a lender for your business really comes down to what you need the financing for. For some, this may mean startup costs and getting a location. For others, it could mean adding additional supplies, staff, and equipment; or even expanding into a new building.

Regardless of your reasons, we’ve got a few tips we’d like to offer based on our years of experience working with lenders for our clients.

  • Start local. Getting good financing can ultimately come down to relationships. When you’re on the hunt for commercial financing, check out all of the specials and deals with your local banks and credit unions. Often times, they’ll understand your need better than a larger bank. Be sure to find a lender who has an understanding of your industry, too. They’re knowledge will ultimately be beneficial in structuring your financial solution and maximizing the credit available to you.
  • Build a report early. Once you’ve found the perfect lender, start talking to them as early as possible. Ideally, months (or even years) before you need their assistance. As we said, having a relationship with your lender will not only help you get better deals, but you’ll also have a much better overall picture of the process.
  • Get clarity. This is also known as Business Planning time. In order to get financing for your commercial project, you’re going to need to get clear about your business plan and goals. You’ll need to get very detailed and have a clear vision of how your business is going to succeed and how the loan will help impact that success.
  • Know your objectives. You’ll want to write out an objective for your lender to gain financing from them. This helps them gain a better understanding of how you plan to execute your overall business purpose and impact your target market. This usually includes a details about how you plan to run your business, how many people you need to make your plans happen (and whether you need to hire more or not), and how you intend to generate cash flow to pay back the loan
  • Economic Cash Flow Assessment. Completing an economic cash flow assessment is crucial to gaining commercial financing. This basically shows your lender why you believe your future business will positively impact the community it’s going to affect. It also shows how you intend to manage money and how you’ll handle things if something was to go wrong.
  • Submit a resume. This one may sound a little strange at first, but it makes sense. Giving your lender a history of your employment will help them to better understand how your experiences have brought you to this point and why you’re a good fit for financing the specific business your proposing. By telling your personal work story, you’ll be able to give more perspective to your lending agent.
  • Personal finances. When applying for commercial financing, you’ll still need to be prepared to have your personal financial records looked over. You’ll be submitting last year’s taxes, as well as a number of bank statements determined by your commercial lender. Be prepared to have your personal credit score reviewed when applying. If your credit score is less than appealing, consider taking steps to improve your score before applying for your business loan. There are a number of ways to acquire your credit score for free. Your best bet is with, which is federally authorized.
  • Have a co-signer. If your credit score could use a bump, but you don’t want to wait – consider taking on a business partner to co-sign your commercial loan. Choose wisely, as their credit score needs to be in tip-top shape, too.
  • Collateral. When applying, you’ll need to think like a lender. Do you have anything in your name that could be used as collateral for your new loan? This is basically anything that gives your lender assurance you’ll pay back the money. It could be something as simple as jewelry, to a car title, home equity, or even property. But remember, don’t gamble with your collateral unless you’re willing to let it go.
  • Apply. Once you have all of the other steps in order, it’s time to officially apply with your bank or credit union. Get in touch with your lender and have them start the process. Because of the all the advanced leg-work you’ve done, applying should be a breeze and the relationship you’ve cultivated could mean a fantastic financing arrangement for you and your business.

Here at Baratto Brothers, we’ve worked with lenders of all shapes and sizes; local and not-so-local. If you’re looking to finance a commercial construction project, feel free to give us a call at 218-692-1070 and we’d be happy to give you suggestions and recommendations. We know how daunting financing a commercial project can be, especially if it’s new to you – but we’re here to help you every step of the way. It’s just one of the ways Baratto Brothers Construction works hard at becoming your Commercial Builder for Life.

Land Acquisition: How Does It Work?

Land acquisition (buying land) is different from buying a pre-existing home or business. For obvious reasons, before you buy land you want to be clear on what the purchase is going to be used for. Your decision will impact whether or not a certain piece of land can be bought and used for its intended purpose. It would be a shame to buy your perfect property for the intention of building a house, only to find out it’s zoned a different way. There are a lot of special considerations to think about when buying land, and we want you to be well informed before making any decisions.

For our purpose as contractors, we’re going to assume you want to build something. There are seven basic steps to take as you find yourself on your land acquisition journey. In many cases, these steps will apply for both commercial and residential construction.

7 Steps to Buying Land

  1. Determine its use: As stated earlier, before you start hunting for your land, figure out why you’re in the market. For the most part, this is the easiest of the steps. Some examples include: Building a house, building a commercial property, farmland, diversifying your portfolio, and even speculation.
  2. Budget: Having a budget in place for purchasing your land is very important. Because buying raw land can include several steps most other property purchases do not require, it’s best to do your due diligence and research before you buy. Down payments tend to be higher for raw land purchases, ranging from 20-50% of the property price. You’ll also need to consider all of the conversion costs (this includes anything you have to convert on your property for its intended use). Talking with your construction team and getting an estimate for these costs will help you determine your budget, if you’re unsure.
  3. Hunt for land: This can be done a variety of ways: searching through property listings online, classified ads in newspapers, or by utilizing the help of a Real Estate Agent. If you’d like some help finding real estate professionals, surveyors, or other professionals contact us. We can also come out with you to preview the land before you purchase to ensure the style and size will fit your dream home. We do a lot of pre-purchase lot viewing with and for our clients. Regardless of how you land hunt, the choice depends on you and what you’re most comfortable with. If you live in a different location, often times a real estate agent is helpful because they can scope out properties on your behalf, letting you know which ones they believe work best for your intended use, and filling you in on the neighborhood, and even zoning issues.
  4. Considerations for Due Diligence: There are a number of things to consider when choosing your raw land to build on. If you are using a real estate agent and a team of contractors to, they can answer a lot of these questions for you. However, it’s never a bad thing to do your own due diligence. Here are some questions to consider.
    • Sewer/Septic – Does the property have access to city septic? Or is the property capable of handling a septic system?
    • Wells – Will the land have access to city water (along with sewer), or will a well need to be installed? If so, what type of well needs to be considered, as there are different types. Will your loan allow you to purchase the property with the kind of well you’ll need to use?
    • Road Access & Easements – Does the property have easy access to a road? Can you get in and out of the property? If not, are you willing and able to build a road to the land? Give careful considerations to easements as it can affect how you use the land.
    • Utility companies – Are the utility companies willing to bring electricity, Internet, and telephone out to your location? Do you have to pay a fee to have this accomplished? How does this affect your budget?
    • Environmental restrictions – Pay particular attention to this, as knowing what environmental restrictions your land may have can impact its use. This can be from zoning down to whether or not wetlands can be altered, or if toxic chemicals have been left behind by previous owner’s usage. In the Brainerd Lakes, for example, owners searching for waterfront properties have to be especially careful, as these lands have a variety of strict guidelines about use and building, which can limit what you can do.
    • Check the plat – When you get serious about a piece of land, consider checking the plat for its legal description and survey to be sure it matches what you’re being sold.
    • Hire a Surveyor – Even if the sellers include a survey of the property you’re about to buy, it’s really best to hire one of your own to determine the soil, topography, and where you should build. This will help you and your construction team avoid certain pitfalls when beginning construction.
  5. Make an offer: Generally speaking, land will appreciate as it’s developed. Because of this, the rule of thumb is to start low and negotiate as you go along. Most raw land properties sell for 85% of the original asking price.
  6. Financing: If you can’t buy the land outright – and remember, down payments are higher at 20-50% – you can consider a more traditional lender to finance the purchase. This may include higher interest rates than a standard home mortgage, and your lender could require a detailed timeline for development. A final option is owner financing, or purchasing the land through the seller. This can be beneficial in certain circumstances, but it’s best to discuss your options with your real estate attorney.
  7. Close: If all of your hard work and research has paid off and both you and the land owner want to finalize your purchase, you’ll finalize everything at the closing of the property. In this meeting, you’ll be signing your land contract, the deed for the land will be transferred, and you’ll receive a closing statement. Congratulations! The land is now yours!

If you’re in the market to build a new custom home, develop a commercial construction project, start a renovation, or if you’re just curious about what we offer at Baratto Brothers, contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help you sift through your options, and make building as easy as possible for you. We’ll do everything we can to become your Builder for Life.

5 Commercial Construction Trends Happening Now

Commercial construction trends have been fluctuating over the past decade. Ever since the market crash and the building bubble burst a few years back, the commercial construction industries have been trying to recover. Now that we’re in 2015, here at Baratto Brothers, we’ve been noticing some uplifting trends happening. But you don’t have to take our word for it. According to Dodge Data and Analytics, the commercial construction industry is poised to increase by 11% going into 2016 – which is great news for everyone.

But where will we see this new growth happening? We’ve been asked what trends we’ve seen in the commercial construction industry this year, so without further ado, here’s our Baratto Brothers Construction list of trends as we head into 2016.

  1. Green is in. Regardless of the type of commercial construction, all across the country we’re seeing a trend toward green and smart building design. The Brainerd Lakes Area is no exception. It seems everyone wants to incorporate some aspect of green construction and this can be anything from sustainable building materials, utilizing renewable energy options, or energy efficient designs, appliances, and materials, or incorporating recycled products and building materials. We’re not just seeing this trend in new construction, either – renovations and remodels are also finding unique ways to ride the green wave.
  2. Renovations. Retail renovations have been making a comeback in 2015, and we predict that we’ll see this happening as we go forward into 2016. Many of the commercial construction projects we’ve seen are in retail renovations, and especially restaurants and hospitality. This has been a good year to modernize, freshen up, and streamline their look and feel to be more effective, and efficient – not to mention beautiful.
  3. Multi-family housing. Just take a drive around the Brainerd Lakes Area, or meander through any city in Minnesota and you’ll see the growth happening in the multi-family housing sector. Large apartment complexes and townhomes are popping up all over. Do you have one in your neighborhood?
  4. Restaurants. New restaurant construction is up, as well as renovations. We’ve had the privilege of working on a number of them this past year, too. Watch our commercial construction gallery page for updates to the projects we’ve been working on this year.
  5. Tech time. Technology is making its way into the construction industry and has been for a number of years. From enhancing project management, to increasing productivity, and even keeping our workers safe with various mobile apps and SaaS (Software as a Service). In addition, more and more smart homes and smart commercial buildings are going up, requiring a higher level of technology sophistication. Don’t be surprised to see more iPads and laptops at job sites as the commercial construction industry gets more advanced with tying technology in with projects.

If you’re looking to start a new commercial construction project, renovation, or just curious about what we offer at Baratto Brothers, contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help you sift through your options, and come up with an affordable plan that delivers the results you’re looking for. We’ll do everything we can to become your Commercial Builder for Life.