Asked on Mar 02, 2012

Storm Damage - It's really time to Beware of Contractor

With storms and tornados passing through a number of states (and sirens going off for me), it's time to warn homeowners who have damage to beware of contractors who knock on your door offering a variety of services. There are a lot of scammers who flood areas after a storm. Not long ago a homeowner told me about being in a Home Depot while one gentlemen bought roofing shingles and a "How To Roof" book talking about the job they had and others they were going to get. Reputable contractors generally do not go knocking door to door. Generally do what you need to protect your home, e.g. tarp the roof, cut out a tree that is on the house. Hold off on things that are not an emergency until you have time to research the contractors and do your due diligence to be sure that they are good.
Be safe and don't become a victim twice!
  9 answers
  • SawHorse Design Build SawHorse Design Build on Mar 02, 2012
    SawHorse does have a storm damage division if you all need help in the Atlanta area. If you already have a contractor but need help negotiating with the insurance company, we have an insurance estimator on our team that can help negotiate and help you get the full repair completed correctly. It is not the easiest process, however it is much easier than getting an improvement loan. We helped several families out last year that had trees fall on their houses and now you can't even tell the difference. Kevin is right - go with a reputable contractor. If you need us to double check their pricing- we can do so for a small consulting fee so you don't get ripped off.

  • Here in Florida it is law that if an area has taken damage from storms (tornadoes, hurricanes, or otherwise) then the contractor looking to do any repairs can not take any down-payment at all from a client. Not even to "cover materials" or whatever. This helps to keep a lot of the fly-by-night storm chaser type of contractor from popping up as bad unless they have deep pockets. So if you live in Florida and have storm damage, don't pay anything until the contractor completes the repair.

  • Earl R Earl R on Mar 03, 2012
    Good advice Kevin!

  • Designing Home INc. Designing Home INc. on Mar 03, 2012
    Our liability insurance doesn't cover us to do those kind of work but I have knowledgeable and handy enough to be volunteer help to join any group of help.

  • You should always be careful....but there are actually quite a few reputable contractors, including me who do go door-to-door introducing Handyandy to the neighborhoods we work in. We have always done this...even when times were good. In todays world, there are so many storm chasers out here that local guys get squeezed out anyway. If you have a serious damage claim, reputable well known firms like Sawhorse are the way to go. You'll pay more than you would to some smaller, unknown outfit but you know the job will be done right. It amazes me how many people go cheap on the roof. Also look at the quality of the materials the contractors is using and nailing pattern for roofs. If your home got hit by a tornado or hurricane...chances are it will happen go with a 6-nail install per shingle for maximum holding power against the wind. Avoid the national guys who come out, sign you up and then you wait for months to have your work done. That happened to alot of folks up in Ringold last year.....same in TN. You can save yourself some headaches by dealing with local contractors with solid references, good BBB ratings and a decent online presence. Avoid the contractors working from home, who give you a free "vista" business card or have no signage on their vehicles. The companies that wrap their vehicles as opposed to temporary magnetic signs are likely going to be around longer. Get several bids and avoid the temptation to either settle with the insurance company too quickly...they are happy to cut you a check for less than you deserve.....or take the lowest bid. Also, avoid paying any deposit until the work has been begun and then pay on a draw basis as work is completed. It's all about cutting the odds!

  • ALWAYS check reputation, licensing, insurance, etc. Out west, we called those traveling shingle hacks "Hail Hounds". They swooped in after a hail storm and slipped out a few months later, leaving us with repairing their careless work.

  • Handy, I was in Ringgold to give a presentation on behalf of the Natl Center for the Prevention of Home Improvement Fraud. While I appreciate that some reputable companies do in fact go issue flyers and may go door to door (hence my use of "generally" in my original post), I did not mean to imply that no reputable company would. My suggestion to companies that do is to actually have on their flyers the information that can be verified and where to find it (e.g. State license # xxxxxx which you can check at this website) and to educate consumer that not everyone that comes to your door is the same. I have heard many consumers say that they refuse to use anyone who comes to their door for fear of being scammed. Everyone benefits if we help educate consumers on the issues to check so they are not scammed.

  • Euroshake Euroshake on Mar 08, 2012
    Like Sawhorse and HandyAndy I have and do canvas neighborhoods after storm events and emphasize to homeowners that they qualify any contractor or tradesman by verifying their insurance coverage, checking at least three references, visiting their web pages, searching for BBB complaints, and if possible state license, local business license, and quick search pf local court records. Professional companies do not hide their expertise under a basket but are pleased to provide solid verifiable information and guidance including the caveat that deductibles are part of the process for the protection of all homeowners in maintaining lower insurance rates. Glad to know many states have clarified the issues of deductibles and insurance fraud between owners and contractors.

  • Sherrie S Sherrie S on Mar 08, 2012
    Kevin, by now we should all know about scams but when really bad things happen we sometimes forget because of the critical nature of the problem. Thank you for the posting.