GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - With severe weather rolling through Minnesota and Wisconsin in recent days, many homeowners are facing the task of removing downed trees, reviving damaged gardens and in some cases, contracting repairs for damage to homes.
The Better Business Bureau urges consumers to report any contractors who won't honor their bid to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, or the Minnesota Department of Commerce if a vendor won't do the work for the amount that was quoted.
Before you sign, do your homework.
The BBB advises you read any and all paperwork carefully before you sign. Anything you sign can be seen as an enforceable contract.
Your first step after storm damage is to contact your insurance company to determine your coverage and filing requirements. Take photos or video of any damage.
If you need to make minor repairs to limit any further damage (as in water damage) do so, but otherwise do not make any permanent repairs until you have approval from your insurance coverage.
Get multiple estimates and beware of high-pressure sales tactics. Ask friends or family for recommendations.
Ask contractors/vendors for proof of liability and workers compensation insurance. Make sure they are licensed to do work in your state.
Demand a written contract from anyone you hire. That contract should detail the work to be done, the materials that will be used and a price breakdown for labor and materials.
Don't pay cash for a job, and don't pay up front.
Also, don't file a claim for something you don't intend to fix. If you hold a mortgage your mortgage company has a vested interest in having the property restored. Many times your mortgage company will need to sign off on the check coming from your insurance company.
Learn more about avoiding storm damage scams from the Better Business Bureau.