Friday, September 23, 2016

Storm Damage? Tips to Hire a Qualified Contractor

When a storm including hail hits a community, citizens are impacted in many ways. There is the initial threat of injury during the storm. After the storm passes, many homeowners invest great time inspecting their property for damage. As challenging as these steps are, dealing with insurance companies and contractors causes homeowners the most grief.

As can happen with any industry, storms can attract contractors who target damaged areas. These contractors make big promises to homeowners and encourage them to “sign today” to be sure they are helped. These types of contractors are “storm chasers” and infiltrate a damaged neighborhood or city to make a fast buck. As a result, many homeowners are taken advantage of and are victims of substandard work, if the contractor shows up to do the work at all.

If you are new to dealing with storm damage, here is a quick checklist of what to do and what you can expect:

Call your Insurance Company
  • If your home experiences storm damage such as hail damage, call your insurance agent and let them know. They will likely send an adjuster to assess the exterior of your home and determine if there is any damage. If damage is found, the adjuster will create a list of repairs and an approximate insurance claim amount required to complete the project.
Call A Contractor
  • Many insurance companies do not have recommended contractors for repair services for storm events. Talk with friends, co-workers, or others to gather an initial list of contractors to call. Here are some other recommendations to help you choose a qualified contractor: 
    • Choose a Local Contractor - Choosing a local contractor is a key first step when hiring for storm damage repair. It’s important to know the company you choose will stand by their work, and that they’ll be around to respond to any service your project may need in the future. 
    • Research the company - Do some homework researching the company before you sign a contract. Visit the Better Business Bureau website. Check Google Reviews. See if they are a registered corporation in the State of Wisconsin. Verify that they can obtain a building permit as a Wisconsin Dwelling Contractor. Get a list of addresses where they’ve completed projects and drive by to evaluate the work.
    • Contact Local Builder Organizations - Strong local contractors are involved in local builder organizations. Check out organizations like NARI Madison for a list of their members.
Review the Estimate
  • During the estimating process, items can overlooked or incorrectly measured. Be sure the contractor walks through the proposal in great detail and explains the work fully. Look closely at your property prior to meeting with the contractor so you have a well thought out list of damage to check against the work they are proposing. 
Sign an Agreement 
  • Once the estimate and scope of work are agreed upon, be sure to sign a contract with contractor. The insurance company will likely ask for you to submit it to them to demonstrate that the work is scheduled to be completed.
Project Completion
  • Once the project is completed, the insurance company will ask for a completion certificate from the contractor as proof the storm damage repairs were completed. The insurance company may also do a follow up inspection as a final check before closing the claim.

Most importantly – take your time and ask questions. True you are likely eager to get the work done. You are still the customer. Be sure you are getting all the information you need to be comfortable with the contractor you choose and the work being performed. A quality, reputable contractor will want you to be comfortable with the process.

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