Hurricane Isaias blew threw Connecticut on August 4th uprooting trees and causing destruction across the state. In the wake of the storm, Better Business Bureau Serving Connecticut (BBB) is warning homeowners to be aware of shady fly-by-night contractors. Unfortunately, the aftermath of a crisis can also bring out crooks looking to take advantage of those who have already been victimized. BBB is urging consumers to hire legitimate contractors and tree services for storm cleanup.
BBB offers the following tips for hiring a contractor for storm cleanup:
Contact your insurance company. Ask about your 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. Your insurance company may also have recommended contractors.
Do your research. Search for businesses you can trust on bbb.org. Read past customer reviews and complaints. We have over 1,200 BBB Accredited home improvement, repair and tree removal companies across Connecticut.
Beware of door-to-door contractors. Companies that come knocking with claims of left-over repair materials from a job “down the street” or that do not have a permanent place of business should raise a red flag. If workers show up offering to do work on your home, ask them what company they work for and do research before agreeing to hire them.
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 proactive in selecting a contractor and not reactive 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.
Watch out for price gouging. Price gouging is when unethical businesses raise the price of needed goods and/or services in the wake of a disaster to increase their own profits. Always obtain three estimates to help you decide which price seems fair for the work that needs done.
Do not rely on verbal promises. Any promises made orally should be written into the contract, including warranty information. Always get estimates in writing and never let any work begin without a written and signed contract. Do not be pressured into signing an agreement before you are ready and make sure you read and understand everything before signing.
Verify license and insurance. Always be sure that the contractor you decide to work with has the necessary licenses and insurance to work in your region. In Connecticut, general contractors are required to obtain an HIC license from the Department of Consumer Protection. You can search for licenses here.
Arrange a payment schedule. Never pay in full in advance of a project. Stagger your payments according to agreed-upon stages of work completion and make a final payment only when work is finished.
For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org.