BBB:Storm Damage Tips

Milwaukee, Wis. – You have trees down in your front yard, and you’ve experienced the wrath of Mother Nature overnight. Now, when picking a contractor to fix the storm damage, don’t let a man-made disaster follow a natural one, warns the Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin.

“It’s a sad fact that ‘man-made’ disasters typically follow natural disasters,” says Jim Temmer, CEO/president of the BBB Serving Wisconsin. “In your haste to do repairs, don’t forget to research companies before you hire them. If you don’t, you could have an even bigger disaster on your hands.”

BBB offers these tips when hiring a contractor:

Beware of “fly-by-night” contractors or “storm chasers” who come into the area after a storm. They canvass neighborhoods and go door-to-door. They may not be properly licensed or insured, may be using inferior materials and may be difficult to locate later if there’s a problem with their work.

Check out the company with the BBB. Call the BBB Serving Wisconsin toll-free at 800-273-1002 or visit BBB.org to check out the BBB’s free report on the company. The BBB’s report will tell you the company’s rating, how many complaints (if any) the company has, how long it’s been in business, the owner’s name and where it’s located. You can also see written customer reviews by customers.

Ask for and check references. Ask for at least three references and take time to call them to find out their experience with the company.

Beware of price gouging. Some unethical businesses may be marking up their products or services by as much as 500 percent. Be sure to comparison shop.

Get all information and promises in writing. Beware of companies who claim your home is structurally unsafe and needs expensive repairs.

Check with your insurance company, and make sure to take pictures and document any repair needs.

Compare bids, but determine which company will provide the best quality and not just the lowest price. Some “storm chaser” companies will often offer rock-bottom prices, but may be unlicensed or providing inferior services. Legitimate contractors can provide a “Certificate of Insurance” that verifies they have current liability and workmen’s compensation coverage. Every consumer should verify that their contractor is properly insured before allowing them to work on their property.

Reputable companies don’t ask for the entire fee up-front. Never pay up front and in full before the work is completed. A rule to follow may be to pay one-third down, one-third when it is half done, and the remaining one-third at completion. Also, pay by credit card or check instead of cash.

For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

BBB offers tips when hiring a contractor