The Better Business Bureau of North Alabama issued this advice:
As storms move into the North Alabama area, it’s possible that homes or business will have damage that will need a professional to fix.
While it’s understandable that people are anxious to get damage from strong storms repaired quickly, BBB reminds consumers and businesses that it is important to do homework on companies before hiring for repair jobs.
“As a first step, homeowners and businesses should take a few minutes to verify a company’s licensing status with their local license authority, and review the company’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) Business Review before hiring a contractor,’” says Michele Mason, president of the BBB of North Alabama.
The BBB warns to be especially cautious if you are approached by any companies from out of town. While these companies may have a very good track record in their own marketplace, consumers and businesses hiring a “storm chaser” to do their repairs face the risk of being unable to get a business to return later, should there be any problems with the workmanship, despite having written warranties.
The BBB offers the following tips for hiring roofing and storm related repair companies:
• Gather the company’s complete contact information and consider it a red flag if they won’t provide it. Also confirm the address is a valid location for this company. Bogus addresses have been used in the past.
• Companies can be checked with the BBB at http://www.northalabama.bbb.org or by calling 256-533-1640 or 800-239-1642. You can also receive a list of BBB Accredited Roofers and other storm repair companies such as Tree Trimmers on the BBB’s Online Directory of Accredited Businesses on their website.
• Verify that the company has secured proper licensing with your local city or county business license department. You can call your BBB to get the numbers for the various license offices if you do not have them.
• Once you choose a company, make sure that you have a written contract that clearly states the work that will be done, the quality or grade of materials that will be used, and an estimated completion date. Verify whether or not the company will also provide cleanup after they have completed their work. Don’t assume this is included in the price.
• Use extreme caution when approached by door-to-door company representatives soliciting work, especially those that ask for advance cash payments for products and services.
• Don’t pay the full amount of the job upfront. Many reputable companies do not require any advance payment or no more than 1/3 of the job in advance. If your insurance company is covering the damage, be wary of a company who requires a 50% deposit or the entire insurance check prior to scheduling the work. Verify with your insurance company that they have approved of all agreed upon repairs and verify their process for providing final payment.
• Make sure you fully read any document where a company is asking you to sign and provide permission for them to contact your insurance company on your behalf. Many of these agreements have a clause to let that company automatically be the one to do repairs if your insurance company approves a claim.