Baton Rouge, LA -- As people rebuild from flooding and wind-driven rain caused by Tropical Storm Isidore and Hurricane Lili, many who have been affected by the storms will seek contractors to help in the process. Most contractors are reputable, hard working individuals. Some people, however, try to take advantage of urgent repair needs in the wake of a disaster.
"Be especially alert for door-to-door solicitors who hand out make-shift flyers and ask for large cash deposits or advance payments in full," said Art Jones, state coordinating officer.
"As always, if the offer seems too good to be true," said Federal Coordinating Officer Carlos Mitchell, "it probably is. Jones and Mitchell recommended the following before hiring a contractor:
- Look first to licensed local contractors who have performed well in the past. Some home improvement stores and trade associations keep lists of contractors who work in the community.
- Get more than one estimate. Ask the contractor for the names and phone numbers of past customers.
- Make sure that the contractor that you select is licensed and insured.
- Get the contract in writing.
- When possible pay by check or money order, not with cash.
- Always insist on a receipt.
- Immediately alert the Consumer Protection Unit of the Attorney General's Office if a contractor starts a project but does not return to complete it.
- Contact the Better Business Bureau for further help in choosing a contractor.