As the Dallas area begins to recover from recent storms, homeowners should take steps to avoid being victimized by unscrupulous contractors who follow storms of this magnitude in all parts of the country. Make informed decisions as you begin the rebuilding process, including the selection of a competent residential construction professional. It’s important for you not to make sudden decisions related to extensive repairs before you’ve done your homework.
Red flags include contractors soliciting with flyers in the mailbox or door to door; contractors who ask for a signed contract to assess the damage or speak with your adjuster; and a request for a large down payment or a bid in the entire amount of the insurance settlement.
Always get a written estimate and make sure the contractor purchases necessary permits and that the work be inspected. Is there a written contract explaining the warranty? Can the contractor supply client references?
You should also obtain at least three bids, check the Better Business Bureau for complaints, make sure the contractor is a member of a professional builder organization such as the Dallas Builders Association and after work is finished, make final payment only after you have a lien release.
Know the laws that protect consumers in the wake of disasters. Specifically, Texas law requires that a “disaster remediation” contract is in writing. Also, a disaster remediation contractor is prohibited from requiring payment prior to beginning work or charging a partial payment disproportionate to the work performed. The statute exempts contractors that have held a business address for at least one year in the county or adjacent county where the work occurs.
In the wake of the recent storms, consumers need to be aware of statutory contract limits on those who have not had a business address for at least one year in the county or adjoining county of the disaster. Ignoring these requirements could make the contractor liable for a deceptive trade practice violation.
Learn more about Dallas Builders Association here.