The BBB of Acadiana is offering the following tips to help those affected by this disaster recover as quickly as possible and avoid being taken by unscrupulous contractors looking to profit from the flooding.
Tips for flood damage clean-up immediately following a disaster:
Call your insurance agent immediately to file a claim. Be sure to ask for specific procedures or paperwork needed to move forward with repairs.
- If possible, take photos of any water saturation. An insurance adjuster may need to see what’s been damaged in order to process your claim.
- As soon as the majority of water is drained away, all wet items should be discarded or cleaned and thoroughly dried within 48 hours of flooding to prevent the growth of mold, according to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
- Following the recent flood event, the BBB of Acadiana urges everyone to be careful of potential repair contractor scams such as the home repair rip-off artist, who may overcharge, perform shoddy work, or skip town without finishing your job. Start with trust. Check them out at acadiana.bbb.org before signing a contract or allowing work to begin on your home.
Tips for homeowners looking for repairs:
- Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Save all receipts, including those for food, temporary lodging, or other expenses that may be covered under your policy.
- Although you may be anxious to get things back to normal, avoid letting your emotions get the better of you. 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. Make temporary repairs if necessary.
- For major repairs, take time to shop around and get 3-4 estimates based on the same specifications and materials. Check out references that are at least one year-old, verify with the local licensing agency that the businesses are permitted to do work in your area.
- Be wary of door-to-door workers who claim to have left-over materials from a job “down the street” or who do not have a permanent place of business. If sales people go do-to-door, check to see if your community requires them to have solicitation permits.
- 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.
- Require a written contract agreement with anyone you hire. It should specify the work to be done, the materials to be used and the price breakdown for both labor and materials. Any promises made orally should be written into the contract, including warranties on materials or labor. Be sure their name, address, license number and phone number along with a start and end date for the work is included in contract. Read and understand the contract in its entirety, don’t sign a blank contract and a copy of the signed contract is to be given to you at time of signature.
- Once you have found a contractor, request proof of a current insurance certificate covering workman’s compensation, property damage and personal liability.
- Never pay in full for all repairs in advance, and do not pay cash! While many companies may ask for a deposit, BBB suggests that no more one-third of the job be paid up front. Be sure the contract specifies the schedule for releasing payments to the contractor.
- Consumer complaints may be filed with the BBB at www.acadiana.bbb.org as well as with the state attorney general.