Now that Sandy has ripped up the eastern seaboard, flooding homes, tearing off roofs, and bringing down trees, people are beginning to clean up. There will be a great many good contractors out there that will give you a reasonable price to conduct thorough work. But there will also be the unscrupulous characters that will overcharge, use inferior products, take a deposit and never return to do the work, and otherwise try to scam you out of your hard-earned money.
Even though you’re in a hurry to get repairs done and debris removed. Be sure to check out contractors and other repair people before hiring them.
- Use contractors and service people that you’ve used before. Or ask your neighbors or friends for recommendations.
- Get several estimates before choosing someone to do the job.
- Make sure to get a signed contract or estimate before allowing anyone to perform work on your home.
- Check your state’s licensing agency to make sure that your contractor is licensed. Ask to see proof of insurance.
- Stay away from the guy driving down the road, drumming up business as he goes along. He may claim that he’s doing work for your neighbor or has materials leftover from another job. These are almost always scammers.
- Don’t pay with cash. Although many small contractors don’t accept credit cards, they will accept checks.
- Don’t give service people money to buy materials. Ideally, contractors will buy the materials up front and bill you later. If not, them at the store and pay for the materials there.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau or other consumer protection groups in your area.
Although there are people who will try to take advantage of others during hard times, there are also communities across the country that will be pulling together in the wake of Sandy’s destruction to help each other dig out, repair, and come together as neighbors. While watching out for yourself, please remember to help out others.