FRANKFORT, Ky. -- With disaster funds flowing to eligible homeowners and businesses in Bell, Knox and Perry counties, officials from the Kentucky Emergency Management Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency advise survivors to use care when hiring contractors.
"Kentuckians who receive disaster funds for June's storm-related damages are now hiring contractors to handle their more complex repairs," said John Heltzel, director of Kentucky Emergency Management and commonwealth coordinating officer for Kentucky."When hiring a contractor, always check their credentials and never hire a contractor who insists on a large cash deposit or payment in full before the work is performed."
A license is required for most building construction projects as well as asbestos, plumbing and electrical work. Check for a certified or professional license by contacting your local government building code or permitting department or the commonwealth licensing board. Contractor information also may be obtained through local trade or professional organizations and area Better Business Bureaus.
"Be smart and be wary when you hire a contractor," said said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer W. M. Moore. "If you feel you cannot afford a contractor, ask a county official if there is a local voluntary agency, community group or faith-based organization that can help."
Tips for hiring a contractor include:
- Get a written estimate and read the fine print -- Always try to get estimates from several reputable contractors before making a decision. Hire a local contractor if at all possible.
- Ask for a written contract -- A complete contract should clearly state the scope of work to be performed, all associated costs and a payment schedule.
- Permits -- Make sure the contract clearly states who obtains necessary permits. Have an attorney review the contract if substantial costs are involved. Keep a copy of signed contracts.
- Proof of insurance -- Make sure the contractor carries general liability insurance, workers' compensation and is bonded. A homeowner or business could be held liable for an accident on their property if the contractor is uninsured.
- Pay by check -- Never pay the full amount before the work is done and pay with a check or credit card instead of cash.
- Report unscrupulous activities, scams or fraud -- Contact your local law enforcement immediately and report it to the Kentucky Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division by calling 502-696-5389, online at www.ag.ky.gov or download a complaint form and mail it to: Consumer Protection Division, 1024 Capital Center Drive, Frankfort, KY 40601.
FEMA does not endorse building contractors. If approached by anyone saying they are with FEMA, ask for identification. All FEMA representatives carry photo identification.
For more information call FEMA at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362. Operators are multilingual. Calls are answered seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT.
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