By Shellie Kreter, BBB Communications Assistant
St. Louisans had a stressful morning today after waking up at 5:30 to tornado sirens. While I’m frazzled enough just from keeping my dog calm throughout the storm, many people now face the much more stressful task of repairing storm damage to their homes.
Getting work done on your home is especially difficult after a storm because of the proliferation of storm chasers.
What’s a storm chaser? Storm chasers are unscrupulous contractors who drive to communities where there has been a storm and pressure homeowners into signing a home repair contract with them. After they’ve received the money, they skip town, leaving all or most of the work unfinished.
To avoid getting scammed by a storm chaser or another untrustworthy contractor, always check businesses out with BBB before writing a check. BBB Business Reviews give consumers vital information about how companies operate and whether they respond to complaints.
Here are some BBB tips for consumers and businesses looking for contractors to make repairs:
- Be cautious of door-to-door salespeople who use high-pressure sales tactics.
- Check with your insurance carrier before making major repairs. An adjuster may need to assess the damage, and the carrier may have recommendations for repairs or contractors.
- Seek at least three bids from prospective contractors based on the same specifications, materials and labor needed to complete the project.
- Ask whether the company is insured against claims covering workers’ compensation, property damage and personal liability in case of accidents. Consumers should obtain the name of the insurance carrier and call to verify coverage.
- Ask whether the contractor meets licensing and bonding requirements set by the state, county or city.
- Find out whether permits are needed before proceeding with the work. The contractor also should be aware of any required permits.
- Ask whether the contractor will provide a lien waiver upon completion of the job. A lien waiver is a statement by the contractor that all suppliers and subcontractors have been paid for their work.
- Read and understand the contract before signing. Get any verbal promises in writing. Include start and completion dates in the contract.
- Remember the rule of thirds. Pay one third at the start of the project, one third when work is 50 percent completed and one third after completion.
A BBB video on hiring contractors is available at http://youtu.be/PBn5M8_RkP0.
For more information to help you make smart, informed decisions about projects around your home, check with BBB by going online to www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.