In the aftermath of recent storms, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) urges the public to exercise caution when hiring a contractor to repair damages. Natural disasters can bring out the best in people, unfortunately it also brings out con artists looking to capitalize off of others grief.
Making Repairs to Home or Business
“Property owners will want to make repairs to their home or business as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, unscrupulous contractors or scam artists may take advantage of the post-disaster chaos to scam unsuspecting property owners out of money, or provide shoddy materials or sub-standard work,” said Kelvin Collins, president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia & the CSRA.
The BBB offers these tips for selecting a contractor to repair any damages:
• Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and any specific filing requirements the company may have.
• Don’t act in haste. Don’t be pressured into signing a long-term contract. Make temporary repairs if necessary.
• For major permanent repairs, take time to shop around for contractors, get competitive bids, check out references, make sure the contractor is properly licensed and check out their report with the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org.
• Be wary of high pressure or scare tactics, such as door to door laborers who claim your home or building is unsafe. If you are concerned about possible structural damage in your home, have an engineer, architect, or building official inspect it.
• Get a written agreement with your contractor that outlines the repairs to be done, the types of materials to be used, and the price breakdown for both labor and materials. Review it carefully before signing.
• Never pay for all repairs in advance and do not pay cash.
• Be wary if a contractor asks you to sign an estimate. Many unscrupulous contractors have you sign what you think is an estimate but in reality is a binding contract.
• Be suspicious of out of town contractors looking to make a quick buck off of your misfortune.
• When seeking the services of a cleaning and restoration firm, remember that flood-soaked carpets can be saved but must be professionally sanitized at the cleaning firm’s plant. Any furniture that has been completely submerged in floodwater will need to be re-upholstered or refinished.
• Thoroughly clean out mud and residual material from heating and cooling units and let the units dry out before determining whether the equipment is functional or needs repairs.
The BBB has tips available on home repair and coping with disasters, as well as reliability reports on area contractors. Additional post-disaster information is available on the web at www.bbb.org. The BBB can also provide you with a list of contractors that are BBB Accredited Businesses.
The BBB can be contacted by visiting www.bbb.org by calling 800-763-4222.