The HBA of Central Missouri is keenly aware of the devastation from the recent tornado and urges those whose homes were damaged from the severe storms and tornadoes to be extremely careful when hiring contractors to clean and repair disaster damaged property or remove disaster debris.
After any natural disaster, consumers need to be wary of fly-by-night operators seeking to take advantage of tornado damage victims. The HBA of Central Missouri recommends that consumers use the following minimum guidelines to qualify any contractors they hire:
- Get a written estimate and contract.
Compare the cost estimate from your insurance provider with the estimate by the restoration contractor. They most likely won’t match exactly but should be similar for the covered loss.
- Ask for and check references.
Contractors should be willing to provide the names of previous customers. Call several former customers who had similar work done to make sure they were satisfied with the job. The HBA is also an excellent resource.
- Ask for proof of insurance.
Make sure the contractor carries general liability insurance and workers’ compensation. If the contractor is not insured, the homeowner may be liable for accidents that occur on the property.
- Use licensed contractors.
Call the HBA of Central Missouri to inquire about a business before signing a contract.
- Get guarantees in writing.
A complete contract should clearly state all the tasks to be performed, all associated costs and the payment schedule. Never sign a blank contract or one with blank spaces. Make sure the contract clearly states who will apply for the necessary permits or licenses.
- Obtain local building permits if required.
Permits may be required for site work, other than demolition, and for reconstruction. Contact your local government for permit information.
- Pay by check after the work is completed.
Avoid on-the-spot cash payments. The safest route is to write a check to the contracting company.
The following are some red flags and warning signs to watch out for:
- Contractor wants 50% deposit plus cost of materials.
- Contractor offers financing of the deductible or other significant costs.
- Contractor and the insurance assessor that writes the scope and/or verifies completion of work are the same company.
- Contractor emphasizes cost saving over relationship, trust and final warranty of satisfaction.
For More Information
To verify contractors with whom you are working, or to request trustworthy references, please visit the member directory on this website or call us directly at (573) 635-6001.