After disasters like the community has suffered, door-to-door salespeople flock to some neighborhoods offering clean up and repair services. While many of these people are honest and reputable, some are not.
Protect yourself and your wallet from unscrupulous operators. If you are insured, call your insurance adjuster and have them make an estimate of the damage and probable repair cost. This will give you a benchmark estimate, prepared by a professional, when you negotiate with… contractors.
If someone does come to your door and offers to do repairs, the Texas Attorney General suggests that you do the following:
•Get more than one estimate. Don’t be pushed into signing a contract right away. Take your time.
•Check the contractor out with the Better Business Bureau. Ask if there are any complaints about the company.
•Get references from past customers and check them.
•Get the salesperson’s license plate number.
•Avoid out-of-town businesses. If the repair job turns out to be substandard, this can make correcting the problem or getting your money back more difficult.
•Get everything in writing and keep a copy of all documents. The total cost, work to be done, schedule, payment terms, and other expectations should be written in specific detail. A notice of cancellation – giving you the right to change your mind within three business days – must be included if the transaction occurs at your home.
•Do not sign a contract with blanks. Unscrupulous salespeople could enter unacceptable terms later.
•Ask for proof of insurance. Make sure that the contractor has disability and workers’ compensation insurance. If the contractor is not insured, you could be liable for accidents on your property.
•Never get too far ahead on the payments. Arrange for an independent agent (insurance adjuster or real estate inspector) to inspect the completed work before you make full payment. If you pay too much up front, the contractor has little incentive to return and finish the job.
•Find out in writing if the contractor or business will place a lien, security interest or mortgage on your property.
•Ask for guarantees in writing. If the contractor provides guarantees, they should be written into the contract, clearly stating what is guaranteed, who is responsible for the guarantee (the dealer, the contractor, or the manufacturer), and how long the guarantee is valid.
•Don’t sign completion papers or make final payment until the work is completed to your satisfaction. A reputable contractor will not threaten you or pressure you to sign if the job is not finished properly.
In summary, be cautious and take your time. For more information, please click on https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cpd/disaster-scams