BBB Advice for Dealing with Damage Caused by Saturday’s Storms

  
     
May 29, 2017

BBB Advice for Dealing with Storm Damage

For the second time in a month, strong storms moved through the Memphis area last Saturday night. In what’s being reported as the third largest power outage in MLGW history, more than 188,000 people lost power due to large tree limbs and uprooted trees downing power lines. Those same trees and limbs wreaked havoc on homes, cars, fences and anything else that lay in their path as they toppled over.

BBB is once again reminding homeowners that recovering from damage caused by such a devastating storm could take some time. People should be wary of storm chasers and less-than-ethical contractors looking to take advantage of those who need help cleaning up and repairing storm damage. Folks who are anxious to get their homes and yards back to normal should be on the lookout for scams involving clean-up efforts, tree or limb removal, and fence, roof, and home repairs.

Storm chasers often prey on folks who suffered storm damage, going door-to-door offering a “great deal” on clean-up or repair work if the homeowner hires them on the spot. Distressed homeowners may jump at the chance to get someone started working on their damage right away. However, in many cases, once they finish the job, storm chasers demand more money than the homeowner agreed to, claiming more work was necessary. Some victims pay upfront for work to be done, only to have the shady contractors take their money and run.

Storm victims should be pro-active in selecting a contractor and not re-active to sales calls on the phone or door-to-door pitches. Victims are urged to check out a company’s reputation at bbb.org before hiring them to do any work. BBB Business Profiles are available on smart phones and tablets, so people can check out a company while the representative is standing at their door.

“Exercise caution when dealing with door-to-door solicitors, who may not be licensed or insured, may not do a good job and may not be around later to complete or correct work that wasn’t properly done,” said Randy Hutchinson, BBB of the Mid-South president.  “Look for local license plates and company signage on their vehicles,” Hutchinson added, “and get more information than just a cell phone number, which may be hard to trace if the contractors disappears.”

Those dealing with clean up and repair from this storm should heed these BBB tips:

  • Contractors doing work between $3000 and $24,999 in Shelby County must hold a valid Tennessee Home Improvement license. Jobs over $25,000 require a valid General Contractor’s license from the state. If your repair work totals more than $3000, ask for proof of the business’s Home Improvement or Contractor’s license, then verify that information at verify.tn.gov.
  • Be wary of door-to-door workers who show up unsolicited offering to make repairs. This includes companies offering to remove fallen trees and branches. Improper removal of fallen trees could cause further damage to your home. Just because someone has a chainsaw doesn’t mean they know how to properly remove a fallen tree.
  • Although you may be anxious to get things back to normal, avoid acting in haste. Don't be pressured into signing a contract or paying for repairs up front to get on someone’s schedule.
  • Make temporary repairs, such as tarping the hole in your roof, to prevent further damage until a reputable contractor can make permanent repairs. Remember that you may have to wait for a reputable company to get to your repairs.
  • Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Keep copies of receipts for emergency repairs for reimbursement later.
  • Take time to shop around for reputable contractors. Get at least three estimates and check out contractors with BBB at bbb.org or by calling 901-759-1300 or 800-222-8754.
  • BBB can provide you a list of reputable BBB Accredited Businesses to choose from, including roofers, tree removal companies, fence companies and other home repair businesses at bbb.org or by calling 901-759-1300 or 800-222-8754.
  • Get everything in writing. The written agreement should outline the work to be done, the materials to be used, and the price breakdown for both labor and materials. Review it carefully before signing. Vague clauses such as “repair roof” are invitations for abuse.
  • Never pay the full amount of repairs in advance. BBB and the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors advises that you pay no more than 30% up front. Pay with a credit card if possible, which offers you more protection if the work is not completed as specified.
  • Read more BBB tips regarding home improvement scams at bbb.org/storm.
  • Report scam attempts to bbb.org/scamtracker.

 

BBB Contact:

Nancy Crawford

901-213-7809

ncrawford@bbbmidsouth.org