Erie, PA - Homeowners who experienced storm damage from severe weather on Sunday are likely anxious to make repairs to their property, but are encouraged to use caution before hiring a contractor. Your Better Business Bureau offers a resource center for homeowners who’ve suffered damage to their homes or property.
Out-of-town storm chasers often solicit door-to-door in neighborhoods that have been hit hard by storms, offering affordable and immediate repair work. In some instances, a homeowner may pay for work to be done, only to have workers take the money and disappear. In other cases, shoddy work is done at an exorbitant price and when issues arise later on, there is no way to get in touch with the contractor.
Your Better Business Bureau is advising residents who have been impacted by storms to remember the following tips:
Contact your insurance company: Check with your insurance company immediately to inquire about policy coverage and how to file a claim. Keep copies of any receipts for reimbursement.
Obtain bids from qualified contractors: Request bids from 2-3 contractors using the same set of specifications before making a commitment.
Check for registration and insurance: Verify contractors you are considering hiring are properly registered with thePA Attorney General’s Office and have up-to-date workers compensation and liability insurance. Request the company’s current certificates of insurance.
Get everything in writing: Make sure you receive a copy of the contract and that all details of the project are listed before signing. If the company makes any verbal promises, make sure it is included in writing. Vague clauses such as “repair roof” are invitations for abuse.
Follow the rule of thirds: PA law states that no more than one-third of the job or one-third of the job plus the cost of any special order materials can be paid up front for contracts over $5,000. Be sure the contract specifies the schedule for releasing payments to the contractor. Make payment to the company by credit card or check made out to the company, rather than cash.