Your Better Business Bureau serving northwest Florida warns homeowners affected by Tropical Storm Fay that scam artists will try to take advantage of the chaos during the cleanup. Your BBB advises homeowners:
- Don't be pressured into making an immediate decision on a permanent repair. Make temporary repairs if necessary.
- Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Save all receipts, including those for repairs, food, temporary lodging or other expenses that may be covered under your policy.
- Shop around for contractors, get at least three competitive bids from properly-licensed contractors, check out references (of at least a year old). If possible, homeowners should visit and inspect completed projects.
- Contact your BBB for a free Reliability Report™ on a specific business by calling 850.429.0002 or starting with bbb.org. BBB also provides industry reference lists of all BBB Accredited Businesses within a specific industry free-of-charge. All BBB Accredited Businesses have agreed to uphold BBB standards for ethics in the marketplace.
- Be wary of door-to-door workers who claim to have left-over repair materials from a nearby job or who do not have a permanent place of business.
- Be leery if a worker shows up on your doorstep to announce your home is unsafe. If you are concerned about possible structural damage in your home, have an engineer, architect or building official inspect it.
- Prepare a written contract agreement with anyone you hire. Make sure oral promises are included in the written contract, including warranties on materials or labor. Make sure the written contract includes the contractor's full name, address, telephone number and professional license number. Never sign a partial or blank contract.
- Ensure the contractor will apply for all building permits in his or her name so that if the contractor's work does not pass inspection, you cannot be held financially responsible for any corrections that must be made.
- Never pay for all repairs in advance, and do not pay cash.
For additional information and advice you can trust on hiring a contractor and disaster recovery, start with bbb.org.