In the face of Hurricane Irma bearing down on central Florida, and Hurricane Jose right behind her, you need to take precautions to keep you and your family and property as safe as possible. You buy your non-perishable food, water, propane and other supplies. You board up your windows and fill your sandbags. Or you pack up your car and leave the area.
After the storm, you assess the damage. Some may have no damage at all. Some may lose everything. Some will be in between with minor to major damage.
Here is another area where you need to be prepared. And be patient…..
There are companies right now gearing up to invade the area after the storm. A lot of them have alrady traveled to Houston for Hurricane Harvey. Restoration companies, tree service companies, general contractors, roofers…they are all waiting for the storm to be over so they can come in and start fixing the damage…and some of them will be ripping people blind. Some homeowners will have their insurance money stolen and their homes left in disrepair. Some will have work done that is unnecessary because they trusted the contractor that came to their home. Some will have sub par work done and pay outrageous prices for it. Some will have work done, and a sub contractor will lien their home because he didn’t get paid by the contractor they hired.
There are ways that you can protect yourself, and your biggest investment.
Water damage restoration contractors should also be certified by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification for water damage restoration IICRC
These certifications are your guarantee that these companies are going to take care of your water damage properly, according to stringent industry standards.
Most certified water damage restoration companies have other contractors that they use on jobs regularly that they can recommend to you. Don’t be fooled by a “big box” name, most of them are franchises and the people coming to your home may not be properly trained or certified.
Do NOT hire a contractor who knocks on your door or cold calls you offering to give you a “free” estimate. Legitimate contractors who do a good job and are honest will don’t knock on doors or cold call. And legitimate contractors are going to be really busy, so you may need to wait awhile to get your home repaired.
After a large storm, the rip off artists come out of the woodwork and they will try to take advantage of you in every way possible.
Ask for their license, and ONLY hire companies that are licensed to do business in Florida. You can check their licensing at Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation General Contractors, roofers and tree companies have separate licensing requirements.
Professional restoration contractors will work with you and your insurance company. Many use the same estimating programs as the insurance company, Xactware or Symbility, so there will be very little discrepancy. Professional restoration contractors may collect our deductible up front or within a few days of being contracted. Be wary of companies that offer to “waive” your deductible – this practice is illegal, and do you really think they are going to eat $2500 to $5000 on the bill? It is an indicator that they are going to try to “fudge” the bill to make more money from your claim, or they are going to take the money and run, leaving you with a damaged home and no funds to repair it.
Do NOT pay any contractor the full amount up front. For large jobs requiring major repairs, the restoration contractor may ask for “draws”, typically 1/3 at the start for materials, 1/3 when work is half way complete and 1/3 upon final completion. Your insurance adjuster should be able to help you with this.
Make sure you get the names, contact info and license info for any company that does work on your home. Require EACH company to file and submit a notarized Release of Lien before you make a final payment to your contractor.
If you need help, feel free to give us a call. WE can guide you through the process and help you find the right people, even if you don’t hire us.