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10 Tips to Hire a Contractor After a Disaster

10 Tips to Hire a Contractor After a Disaster

Legal Aid can help serve those impacted by the recent tornadoes in Arkansas. The recent destruction caused by tornadoes in Eastern Arkansas has affected many homes, businesses, and lives. 

When you have been impacted by an event like a tornado or flood, you may need to hire a professional contractor to make repairs or rebuild your home.

Susan Purtle, Consumer Workgroup Leader, shares some insight about scams can sometimes come along with contractors that seem trustworthy.

“Unfortunately, scam artists target the elderly and people who receive insurance proceeds after a disaster. A telltale sign of a scam artist is high-pressure sales tactics used to sell a range of unneeded services. They often deliver poorly completed but expensive work. Other warning signs include encouragement to use a specific lender or to apply for a reverse mortgage in order to pay for services.”

Legal Aid of Arkansas is here to help you hire a contractor you can trust. Our Consumer Workgroup has some insight to share with these 10 Tips to Hire a Contractor After a Disaster that will help you get started.

  1. Check that the contractor is licensed and certified by the state of Arkansas. Contact the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board to find out if your contractor is licensed before hiring.
  2. Ask for references and check them. Ask your potential contractor for three references from the past five years or inspect their work yourself by asking for photos or addresses where they have completed work. If you speak with references ask questions like were you satisfied with their work or how much did your project run over budget?
     
  3. Get a written contract from the contractor before work starts. The contract should outline the work to be done, the price, and at what points of completion payments are due. You should fully understand your contract and the warranties that the builder will provide for the work performed.
     
  4. Ask for proof of the contractor’s general liability insurance. An insurance carrier can have a copy of the certificate sent directly from their agency. This may take additional time after a disaster.
     
  5. All jobs should be permitted and inspected. Please check with your local municipality or county to verify the contractor submitted the proper permits and inspection requests.
     
  6. View the repair service reports of a contractor (or report any suspicious activity). Contact the Consumer Protection Division in the Arkansas Office of the Attorney General to view the repair service report of a particular contractor or to report any suspicious activity.
  7. Be careful about hiring the lowest bid. The lowest bid is not always the best contractor for the job. Be suspicious of contractors who push you to make an immediate decision.
     
  8. Search for individuals that have had disciplinary action taken against them. Check with the Arkansas State Committee of Plumbing Examiners and/or the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration (HVACR) Board for violations of the state's plumbing code, mechanical code, and licensing law.
  9. Be suspicious of contractors who want a full or large payment before starting the job or who will only accept cash payments.
     
  10. Check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for any history of unsatisfied complaints.

Learn more about construction scams from our Consumer Workgroup here

“Remember, legal action is not always immediately required," explains Purtle. "If you know or suspect a home improvement scam, try to resolve the issue with the contractor. The contractor may be open to negotiation, especially if they believe you will take legal action. You should follow up all conversations with written letters sent with return receipts as proof the letter was received. If you and the contractor are unable to reach an understanding, it is acceptable for another reputable contractor to complete or repair the poorly done work and then seek damages against the con artist for the out-of-pocket costs spent to fix the problems."

Call Legal Aid of Arkansas at 1-800-952-9243 if you need legal help with a contractor. Visit www.arlegalservices.org/tornadorelief for more disaster relief resources or to apply for legal help.

 

 

Disclaimer
This Blog/Webpage is made available by Legal Aid of Arkansas for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. Using this webpage does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Legal Aid of Arkansas. The Blog/Webpage should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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