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How to Hire a Contractor to Help with Restoration, Repair or ReBuilding
Natural disasters often bring out the best in people. Unfortunately, these stressful events sometimes attract unscrupulous or incompetent contractors out to make a fast buck from the misfortune of others. Your Better Business Bureau has the following suggestions for consumers needing to restore or rebuild their homes:
- Don’t sign anything you don’t understand. Ask a friend, a relative, business person or an attorney to review any contract you do not understand.
- For restoration projects, hire only local contractors qualified in mold remediation and property restoration.
- Be suspicious of any contractor who contacts you out-of-the-blue or is going door-to-door to offer his services.
- Check BBB Business Reviews at southerncolorado.bbb.org of any contractor you are considering hiring. Ask for references and then call them.
- Act promptly. Every insurance contract requires the policyholder to mitigate damages. Some examples include cutting off the water, moving contents (things inside your house) to a safe place and tarping the roof (but only if it can be safely done).
- Do not be surprised if the insurance check is issued to both you and the lender that holds your mortgage. Your contractor may require you to sign a statement acknowledging that the lien on the mortgage attaches to the insurance check. This is a common practice since Hurricane Katrina and helps ensure that the insurance check is used to restore the property.
- Keep a copy of all contracts you sign and any warranty papers your contractor might give you.
- Don’t be in a hurry. It may take a while for local contractors to get around to you and you may be frustrated. That is understandable. But the scammer understands this too and will attempt to manipulate these feelings of frustration to your detriment. Don’t be pressured into making a decision that might come back to haunt you later.
- Be highly suspicious of any contractor who asks you to pay for the entire job upfront. You may never see him – or your money! - again! For certain jobs it might be OK to pay a deposit. Check with a trusted friend, relative or your insurance agent to see if payment of a deposit is customary for your particular job.
- Some contracts contain a clause where substantial cancellation fees, sometimes called liquidated damages, are required if the homeowner decides not to use the contractor after the cancellation period referred to in the contract.