Time for Spring Cleaning: the Mess Winter has Left Behind
BBB Recommends Tips for Choosing Contractors
The snow and ice and its lingering effects have wreaked havoc for many Maryland homes and businesses. Better Business Bureau warns opportunists will be looking for victims of their own who need work done to their houses.
If your roof hasn’t sprung a leak, your hardwood floors aren’t buckling, and the tall tress around your house are still standing – you survived the “snow-apocalypse.” But spring maintenance and annual repairs for homeowners is literally just weeks away.
Not only do consumers need to be on the look-out for unscrupulous roof, siding and asphalt repairmen who show-up in front of their homes like knights in shining armor, but they need to use common-sense and resist making quick and/or emotional decisions when choosing any contractor, restoration firm, tree service or service provider.
BBB offers the following tips for selecting a contractor for home repairs:
· A contract should include a description of all the work to be performed, including the quality of materials to be used.
· Homeowners should not make decisions they are uncomfortable with or be pushed into making a decision.
· If you are forced out of your home by the snow or resulting damage to your home, save your receipts, including those for food and temporary lodging, as they may be covered under your insurance policy. Contracts should include a price break-down for both labor and materials.
· Any promises made orally should be written into the contract, including any warranties on materials or labor.
· References at least a year old should be requested. It may seem impossible to travel to an unaffected area to inspect references after a disaster, but remember the time spent will be minor in comparison to the possibility of living with inferior repair work for years.
· Review all documentation before any payments are made and before signing the dotted line.
· Homeowners should be suspicious of door-to-door workers who, in order to get the job, may use scare tactics such as allegedly unsafe structural conditions.
· Homeowners should check to see if the company's name is on the worker's vehicle, if the company is listed in the telephone directory, and if a street address is provided.
· Check with BBB at www.bbb.org to make sure the contractor has a satisfactory record of performance and can be trusted with your business.
· Contact the Maryland Home Improvement Commission and make certain the contractor has the proper licensing or the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in the case of tree service companies.
Although victims of snow related damage may be most concerned with getting things back to normal for spring time, additional heartache and money will be saved by proceeding with caution. If possible, homeowners should request two or three estimates of the cost of repairs. The homeowners should also be certain that the contractors are bidding the same package including materials to be used, when work is to begin and be completed, and when payments are to be made. If financing, the contract should include a breakdown of these costs as well.
A down payment of 30 percent of the total is standard for the industry. The time when work is to begin is particularly important as many contractors may have a backlog of work due to the disaster. Homeowners should not sign a completion form until they are totally satisfied. It is wise for homeowners to ask for a lien waver to protect them in the event the contractor fails to pay their suppliers. In selecting a contractor, the homeowner should make sure the contract contains a detailed description of the necessary work. A contract which states "repair siding" is an open invitation for abuse.Bottom of Form