(GRAND RAPIDS) Feb. 26, 2018 - Large portions of Michigan are cleaning up after severe flooding, which has left behind everything from flooded basements to flooded cars. BBB Serving Western Michigan is warning that this is the time to look out for "storm chasers."
These scam artists present themselves as contractors able to fix or repair a homeowner's problems. Unlicensed and uninsured, they go town-to-town and door-to door taking money for work, underperforming or not performing at all, and then they move on to the next town, often times before the homeowners know they've been ripped-off.
Home and building owners will act quickly to clean up damage, but hastily hiring untrustworthy help can lead to even bigger problems.
Remember these tips before you hire help after severe weather:
Resist high-pressure sales. Some storm chasers use tactics such as the "good deal" you'll get only if you hire the contractor on the spot. Be pro-active in selecting a contractor and not re-active to sales calls on the phone or door-to-door pitches. Disaster victims should never feel forced to make a hasty decision or to choose an unknown contractor.
Don't pay for the entire job up front. Be wary of any contractor who demands full payment up front. Best practice is to pay for the work in installments over the course of the project so you can ensure that the work is being done well and on schedule.
Get multiple quotes. Get at least 3 written quotes from contractors, and insist that payments be made to the company, not an individual.
Get a written contract. The contract should clearly specify the price and work to be done and a time frame for it.
Check with your insurance company. Ask about your policy coverages, what can and needs to be claimed, and how you'll be reimbursed for what you need repaired.
Be wary regarding places you can't see. While most contractors abide by the law, be careful allowing someone you do not know to inspect your roof and other areas of your house. An unethical contractor may actually create damage to get work. The same goes for attics, crawl spaces, ducts, and other places you cannot easily access or see for yourself.
BBB is also warning contractors to beware of storm chasers who offer to pay local construction companies substantial amounts of money to use the business's established name, reputation, and phone. They masquerade as a local business, collect the insurance money and then move on, leaving the real business to deal with unsatisfied customers due to bad workmanship, unfinished work, or unfulfilled warranties.
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