Last week parts of Henry County experienced a severe storm that resulted in substantial hail damage to many homes and vehicles. Since that storm, there have been reports of people going through neighborhoods offering to repair the damaged homes.
The Henry County Sheriff’s Office issued a warning to residents to be on the lookout for dishonest contractors. In some cases, the contractors will take the victim’s money, make limited or no repairs at all, and disappear—leaving the property owner victimized a second time. Criminals may try taking advantage of people who are victims of severe storms by asking for up-front payments and then never doing the repair work, price gouging, charging for unnecessary repairs, and doing poor-quality work.
If your home is damaged, it is essential to thoroughly research a contractor before hiring them to make repairs.
Make sure contractors have the proper licensing.
They should have a Virginia contractor’s license and a Henry County Business License.
Verify insurance. Contractors should have disability and workers’ compensation insurance. If they don’t, you may be liable for accidents on your property.
Ensure contractors obtain the necessary permits to do the job. Get estimates from multiple contractors and your insurance company. Reject any offer that seems too good to be true.
Make sure the contract details all work to be performed, the costs, projected completion date, and how to negotiate changes and settle disputes.
Get agreements in writing. Read the contract carefully, and if you don’t understand every word, take it to an expert. Never sign a contract with blank spaces to be filled in. Don’t sign completion papers or make final payments until the work is done correctly.
Use the Better Business Bureau, www.bbb.org, and internet search engines. Fraudulent firms change names frequently, so search the web for their address and phone number, and include terms like “review,” “scam,” and “complaint.”
Don’t wire money or use reloadable debit or gift cards. There is no legitimate reason to use this form of payment. Don’t offer personal financial information over the phone. Know who you are dealing with and always ask for identification.