BBB tips for hiring a contractor after the storm

Posted at 3:12 PM, May 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-03 15:12:40-04

If you're looking for a contractor to help fix any damage your property may have suffered after all the recent flooding, take these tips from the Better Business Bureau into consideration.

The BBB is warning people who have been affected by the recent storms to beware of "storm chasers" soliciting business from people who may be desperate to make repairs.

Follow these suggestions from the BBB to make sure you don't get scammed:

  • Check with your insurance company. Ask about your policy coverage. Save all of your receipts, even those for food, temporary housing and other expenses you may accrue while dealing with/fixing the damage.
  • Stay calm. Don't be pressured into making an immediate decision. These may be major, long-term fixes. Make temporary repairs if you have to.
  • Start with trust. Check out the BBB's list of accredited general contractors. If the damage does not need immediate attention, get three competitive bids and get references for all companies you are considering working with.
  • Stay clear of door-to-door offers. Companies that knock on your door and claim to have left-over repair materials from a job down the street or do not have a permanent place of business should raise concerns. If a worker shows up and claims your house in unsafe, have an expert check it out for structural damage.
  • Verify insurance. Make sure the company has liability and worker's comp insurance. Ask them to provide proof of insurance.
  • Get it in writing. The contract should specify the work to be done, the materials to be used, and the price breakdown for labor and materials. Promises made orally should be included in the contract.
  • Get receipts for everything. If a contractor asks you to pay the full amount of the work upfront in cash, this should raise a red flag. Get receipts for all payments made. Many pay-first jobs go incomplete. It's okay to pay a deposit for a job, but only you have checked out the company and have verified their validity and work with a trusted friend, relative or your insurance agent to make sure giving a deposit is customary for the particular job you are having done.

To report an experience with a "storm chaser," visit BBB's Scam Tracker.