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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

June is becoming one of Natural Disasters.Avoid the scams that accompany natural disasters.

Your local contractor usually has a common best interest, a local reputation to uphold, and will be there for you in the long run.

Do your research - Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements.  Research the history of the contractor you are considering hiring.

Stay calm - Although you may be anxious to get things back to normal, don't be pressured into making an immediate decision with a long-term impact.  Be pro-active in selecting a company and not re-active to sales solicitations.

Avoid high-pressure sales tactics - Enough Said.  Although you are obligated by most insurance policies to minimize further damage.

Trust your gut - Be leery if a worker shows up on your doorstep to announce that your home is unsafe. If you are concerned about possible structural damage in your home, have an engineer, architect or building official inspect it. While most contractors abide by the law, be careful allowing someone you do not know to inspect your property. An unethical contractor may actually create damage to get work.

Get everything in writing - Require a written contract agreement with anyone you hire. Be sure their name, address, license number and phone number are included in the contract. Read and understand the contract in its entirety, don’t sign a blank contract, and make sure you get a copy of the signed contract at the time of signature.
If one estimate seems much lower than the others and it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many fly-by-night contractors' below-cost bids seem attractive, but these contractors often are uninsured and perform substandard work or use substandard materials. Make sure to read the fine print. Some contracts use a clause where substantial cancellation fees or liquidation damages are required if the homeowner decides not to use the contractor after insurance approval of the claim. In some instances you may be required to pay the full agreed price if the homeowner cancels after the 3 day cancellation period. If an estimate or contract is confusing, ask the contractor to break it down into items/terms you can understand.

Ultimately, disaster victims should never feel forced to make a hasty decision or to choose an unknown contractor. Stay calm, do your research, and trust yourself to make the right decision.  Again, your local contractor usually has a common best interest, a local reputation to uphold, and will be there for you in the long run.