Better Business Bureau warns of unlicensed contractors after hurricane

Tom Stephens, Better Business Bureau says a lot of people need contractors right now but warns that he  “has reports of unlicensed roofing activity in this area.”

With more than 1,100 homes in Chatham County sustaining damage, Stephens also understands the competition to get a roofer and or contractor will be still.  But he advises doing all you can to make sure you select someone who is licensed and if possible, who is local. “You have to be careful of what we call storm chasers, i.e. contractors that come in from who knows where,” he said.  “If possible, people should pursue contractors themselves instead of being pursued by contractors. In other words, be aware of the guy going door to door.”

In Chatham County and the City of Savannah, temporary licenses are being offered for those who want to come in to do work.  Stephens says just make sure you understand if you have someone who is licensed or isn’t.  For example, he says if you pick someone to do work, say to cut a tree and that person is not licensed and he or someone working for him is hurt on your property, you may be liable for their injuries.

He also says an out of town contractor may be great but “make sure they will be around later to do warranty work if there are any problems.”

He also says do your homework regarding your own insurance coverage.  He says some policies have what’s often called a contractor’s clause.  “And that allows the contractor to negotiate directly with the insurance company. And the benefits of the claim go directly to the contractor and not to the homeowner.”  Stephens says he understands that it’s a protection for the contractor to make sire they are paid  “I get that, ” he said. “but there are hidden dangers in there that consumers need to be aware of.”

Stephens says for one thing, if you were to deal with someone who wasn’t reputable that person may inflate the claim with the insurance company. “And what happens is the insurance company says no, we’re not going to pay that much so the company doesn’t.  What can happen next is the contractor may go after the homeowner for the difference because often the homeowner has signed a contract.”

So he says be careful about what you sign and when.  Don’t sign anything unless you understand if there is some type of contractor’s clause.

The Better Business Bureau also advises:

**  Get a written contract that specifies what work is to be done and when.
**  Get 3 to 4 quotes from contractors.
**  Insist that payment be made to a company and not to an individual
** Pay be credit card if possible.  It may offer additional protection if there’s a problem.
** Check a contractor’s record and or rating by going to the Better Business Bureau’s website

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