WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Contractors are critical to the recovery of Hampden and Worcester County residents following the June 1 severe storms and tornadoes, but before hiring one, homeowners should make sure a contractor is licensed.
Massachusetts requires that residential building contractors, roofers and remodelers hold a license
to do business in the state. That applies whether the contractor is local or based out of state.
"The first thing you should do if a contractor offers to repair your property is ask to see their license," said Federal Coordinating Officer Nick Russo of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "If they don't have one, don't do business with them."
Out-of-state contractors who want to do business in Massachusetts can obtain a state license by applying and meeting the criteria.
Here are some additional recommendations on choosing a contractor:
- Get bids from three contractors.
- Ask for and check their references.
- Get a written contract.
- Don't pay more than 10 percent down or $1,000, whichever is less.
- Never pay with cash.
- Don't let payments get ahead of the work completed.
FEMA and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) do not recommend or endorse any contractors, and officials warn people to be wary of any contractors who claim they are authorized by these agencies. They are not.
Those who suspect anyone of committing fraudulent activities should call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline toll-free at 1-866-720-5721.
Complaints may also be made to local law enforcement agencies and to the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs Consumer Hotline, 1-888-283-3757.
To check the history of a business or to file a complaint, residents can also contact the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office Consumer Hotline, 1-617-727-8400.
FEMA asks grant recipients to keep receipts for all expenditures made from FEMA grant money for at least three years. The money can be spent only for specified eligible costs. More information about making disaster-related repairs or rebuilding after a disaster is available online at www.fema.gov/rebuild.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.