Hiring a Contractor after a Natural Disaster

by Christine DemosNovember 2, 2012

With Hurricane Sandy’s recent landfall on the East Coast of the United States, now is an excellent time to dive into the do’s and don’ts of hiring a contractor. Additionally, we’ll cover how a natural disaster presents opportunities, both negative and positive.

Hiring a Contractor after a Natural Disaster
One might not recognize the positive side of something like a hurricane, but home repair contractors see it as an opportune time for their business. There are many homeowners who will be in need of repairs and they’re going to need them quickly. Sometimes it’s hard to see the silver lining in an event such as a hurricane, but for those in the contracting business, natural disaster cleanup is an opportunity to increase sales and grow their business.

Unfortunately, natural disasters also bring about scams to unsuspecting homeowners in a pinch to get their home fixed quickly and to finance these repairs. Homes.com does not want this to happen to anyone; therefore we offer these five things to consider when hiring a contractor after a natural disaster.

1.  Are they a reputable business?

A business card and van with a name painted on it doesn’t guarantee that they are who they present themselves to be. Take the time to check your local Better Business Bureau and see if the company has a history. Review sites where you can check a company’s previous complaints and praises are also beneficial; let the internet be a helpful tool for you. Additionally, verify that they are licensed by the state you live in and that they have a physical address and can show you proper ID.

2. Can they supply a written contract?

This will be helpful for you to ensure they perform the work agreed upon and that the price for the work doesn’t drastically change halfway through the project. Meet with the contractor before any work begins to develop an itemized list of all charges and when the work will be completed.

3. Is enough time being given to thoroughly review all documents?

A contractor should allow you ample time to read everything once or twice before signing anything. If someone is rushing you to sign documents in a hurry, that’s a red flag. Review everything in fine detail. Home repairs are not inexpensive and you want to guarantee you get the work agreed upon at the price you’re anticipating.

4. What is the down payment process?

More often than not a down payment will be required, but be wary if they’re demanding a large percentage up front. Check with your local Department of Commerce and Insurance. In some states, like Tennessee, there is a law that limits down payments to one third of the total contract. Anything over thirty percent upfront, in any state, is cause for questioning. Additionally, if they are requesting the deposit be in cash only, odds are you do not want to do business with them.

5. Who will be performing the work?

It’s your home and you deserve to know who will be in it. The person you may be discussing the contract with may not be the person re-building your home. Ask who is going to be the project manager. The Federal Trade Commission advises to ask if sub-contractors will be used on a project. If so, make sure they have current insurance coverage and licenses.

In this time of stress, you want to guarantee your home is in good hands. Don’t feel pressured to make a quick decision on choosing who will be re-building your home. For additional tips and resources, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Home Sweet Home Improvement Section.

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About The Author
Christine Demos
Christine is the Content Marketing Specialist for Homes.com. She's a small town girl at heart, who currently lives in Norfolk, VA with her husband and their fur baby. When she's not working, she enjoys cooking, decorating, traveling, and binge watching Netflix. As a proud Virginia Tech alum, she also loves cheering on the Hokies!

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