BBB: Do your research before hiring home repair help for winter storm damage

Posted at 9:10 AM, Jan 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-09 11:10:57-05
With all the snow and ice we've seen in the Treasure Valley, many homeowners are concerned about the possible damage to their property. Better Business Bureau encourages Idahoans to slow down and assess the situation before hiring the first person to come fix it.
BBB's Emily Valla says any sort of damage to your home is stressful and something you want to fix right away, but it's important to be careful you don't make a bad situation worse by rushing through things and ending up with a poor fix.
"While we have had generally good reports from Idahoans, there have been more than 300 home improvement scams reported to BBB’s Scam Tracker nationwide in the past year. Roofing contractors, plumbers, auto repair, and insurance companies all make the list of top-10 most inquired about businesses at BBB serving the Northwest. These numbers show how important it is to take your time to vet a business before hiring them to do a job," Valla said.
BBB recommends first choosing a reputable company.
"Find out how long a company has been in business and how people rate and review them. If they have complaints with BBB, how did the company respond? Taking the time to resolve a situation is most important. Whenever possible, get references. Find out if others had a good experience and if they ended up having to pay more than they bargained for," Valla said.
It's also a good idea to get multiple estimates when hiring a contractor. Make sure the contractors have proof of their licenses and insurance.
Once you've chosen a company to work with, BBB offers this advice:
Avoid high pressure pitches. "Be careful of high pressure sales pitches that are both trying to repair the problem and also up-charging you to a system or fix you may not need. This is part of why it’s important to get multiple estimates and ask questions before agreeing to anything," Valla said.
Never pay upfront. "You may need to make a down payment, but avoid paying in full before work is complete. Do not make the final payment until the job is completed and the final project meets your standards. Pay by credit card when possible; avoid paying by cash or unusual forms of payment," said Valla.
Get everything in writing. "Ask the contractor for a written agreement that clearly includes all of the project details. The contract should consist of: contact information, payment schedule, estimated completion date, materials being used and their cost, warranties, and any specific promises. Never sign a blank contract or any contract without reading it thoroughly. Keep a copy of the contract after the job is completed in case there is an issue," Valla advises.
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