With the summer storm season upon us, Angie's List is warning anyone who's suffered wind and hail damage to be on guard against unscrupulous people who offer to help rebuild, but who aren't qualified or even prepared to follow through. In this week's Angie's List report, Nancy Naeve explains how to protect yourself from post-storm contractor scams.
"My daughter called me and she says, "Mom, grab the dogs, grab the cats, get in the safe room," Homeowner Kelly Worner said.
Homeowner Kelly Worner's Oklahoma home suffered damage from a tornado back in May. And it's not the first time she has seen damage like this. Back in 1999, her home had major damage from a tornado. When it came time to address the repairs, Worner says she didn't make the wisest decisions when hiring contractors 14 years ago.
"My contractor forged his credentials. Forged his recommendations. I would not make that mistake again. I would definitely go to Angie's List and read recommendations and not panic to get it done tomorrow. I would be patient. You know if you have temporary living, it'll happen, just don't rush things," Worner said.
"After a storm goes through an area it's not unusual for us unfortunately to hear stories of consumers being taken advantage of – companies coming door to door asking for money up front, promising to do jobs that they don't do. We want to remind consumers to be the best consumer they can even in scenarios like this," Angie's List Founder Angie Hicks said.
"I had a client who had a window blown out, but everything else was ok. But when I got up there he had a basketball sized hole in his roof in one area and two softball sized holes in another area so I advise that everybody get with your contractor, have them come do a walk through. Not just the exterior, but get up in the attic and check all your joists in your roof, all of your framing up in there to make sure because you don't want the damage to come back later," Contractor David Fonzi said.
"Make sure you are working with good local companies. Make sure they are licensed, insured, bonded, if necessary so that you can be sure that you are getting the best company that's going to stand behind the work because a lot of times we're talking roofers, major home improvement projects and you want a company that's going to be around for their warranty," Hicks said.
Though your situation might seem to be one of desperation, take enough time to get at least three written estimates on the job. Get all the details of the job in writing and fully reach the contact before you sign it and never sign a blank contract.
Angie's List also advises homeowners to learn what your insurance policy covers before a storm hits. Never sign over your homeowner's insurance settlement up front and avoid a company that offers to pay or help with your deductible. In some states, deductible help is considered insurance fraud.
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