After a disaster, homeowners are in need of urgent repairs but this is also a time when unscrupulous contractors show up.
Generally, avoid contractors who:
· show up at your door and are from out of town
· are unable to produce local references
· refuse to give you a detailed estimate of the job
· only provide a cell phone number for contact info
· pressure you to make a quick decision
· want you to obtain building permits
· demand payment up front and in cash
Instead, follow these tips to avoid falling victim to one of their scams:
1. Call your insurance agent to report damage and ask for recommendations for reputable local contractors.
2. Don't rush into hiring a contractor. Take the time to research and compare different contractors.
3. Confirm contractors are bonded, have a business license, general liability and workman's comp insurance, and subcontractors have liability coverage under the general contractor. (Your state's licensing board can confirm a contractor's credentials.)
4. Don't pay for work in advance. Get a detailed estimate and a clear payment schedule.
5. Get a written contract that specifies the scope of work, materials to be used, timeline to start and finish the project, total cost, and how changes/disputes will be settled.
6. Don't sign any blank or incomplete documents.
7. Take photos of the contractor's vehicle and license plate.
8. Keep records of all the communication with the contractor, and take photos before, during, and after the work is completed.
9. Only pay in full when the work has been completed correctly, according to code and meets pre-agreed-upon standards.