Living in storm-heavy areas can be difficult and frustrating. During the seasons when you expect natural disasters to occur, it is important to have a dependable general contractor on hand that you can call when you need any assistance with home damages.
While it is true that contractors can be a valuable asset in these types of situations, it can be more difficult than you might think to find one that shares your best interest. With all of the great contractors that exist in the world, there are an equal amount of alternative service providers that are not so desirable.
When you are looking to establish an ongoing relationship with the right contractor for you, there are numerous factors that you must consider before doing so. Specifically, there are 5 main things to look for when you are going about the hiring process after the storm finally hits.
Extensive Experience and a Great Reputation
The first thing that you should pay attention to while considering a general contractor is their experience in the field. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it is also a step that can be very easily overlooked in desperate times.
When emergencies occur within your home due to natural disasters, you might feel the need to panic and find someone to remedy the issue as soon as possible. Damages should indeed be assessed and repaired immediately, but this does not mean that you should be any less thorough in your search for a quality general contractor.
You will want to make sure that the contractor in question has enough experience in the field to make you feel comfortable with hiring them. This research can be completed by going online and checking reviews from previous customers. If the contractor is legitimate, you will see real and honest feedback from people who have purchased their services.
If you find nothing during your search, this should be a cause of worry. This does not mean that the contractor has a clean record, but most likely that they are purposely avoiding reviews or just trying to scam you altogether.
Along with proof of experience, you should ask around to make sure that your potential new contractor has a positive reputation to match. You can speak to people that you know of any local business that might be affiliated with the contractor to get their opinion of whether or not you should hire them for your emergency.
Full Licensing and Insurance
After you have confirmed that the general contractor you are interested in has a satisfactory amount of experience and proof of positive customer feedback, you will need to make sure that they are fully licensed and insured to do the job.
All general contractors must meet the appropriate licensing requirements in your city and state to perform any kind of task on your property. If this is not the case, it will cause many more problems than you will be ready to deal with.
Also, the contractor of your choice will need to be fully insured. This will allow you to feel comfortable while your home is being repaired, knowing that you will not be responsible for any injuries or additional damages that might occur.
If you make the mistake of hiring a general contractor that does not have any kind of insurance, you can end up being pulled into an even bigger problem that you never could have expected. So, all in all, it is best to ask your general contractor if they are licensed and insured before you hire them or sign any contracts.
A Professional and Fully Licensed Team
Not only will the general contractor that you choose to hire need to have licensing and insurance to work on your home repairs, but any team that they work with will need to meet all of the same criteria.
It is one thing to know that the head contractor is operating legally and safely while working on your property, but that means nothing if any of the crew members are not covered under the same policies.
Workplace injuries can happen to anyone, and it is better to be safe than sorry when you are allowing the contractor’s crew to work for you in potentially dangerous conditions.
Do your due diligence in confirming with the contractor that all employees and subcontractors will be responsible for anything that might happen unexpectedly on the job site.
The Ability To Offer Reliable Warranties
When you hire a general contractor to perform repairs on your home after a storm has wiped it out, the quick solution will be more than helpful in the immediate circumstances. After suffering from damages that might have destroyed certain parts of your property, it can be relieving to see everything being put back together right away.
However, the task of repairing these home damages does not stop there. While it is true that you will need to do your best to find the most qualified team of contractors that will get the job done right, you will need to make sure that you are protected if anything goes wrong afterward.
Just because home damages are repaired in the present, it does not mean that they will not fall apart again in the future. If any of the contractor’s work was neglectful or just not up to the highest quality standards, you will feel relieved to know that there was a warranty on your home project.
In most of these situations, general contractors will offer warranties of at least one year, meaning that if anything goes wrong with their work directly during that period, they will repair it once again, at no additional cost to you as the homeowner.
You must ask your potential contractor what kind of warranty options they offer to their customers before you pay them or begin the hiring process. That way, you will know exactly what you are getting into, avoiding unnecessary problems that can arise in the near to distant future.
Last but not least, you should try to look for a general contractor that is located conveniently near the property that will be needing repair services. Many contractors and contracting companies operate on a national to international level, which can be a disadvantage for a few reasons.
First off, local contractors can provide a much more personalized experience for any homeowner. When you share the same neighborhood with the person who will be working on your home repairs, they will most likely be able to offer you much more than some simple fixes to your property.
As a result of their extensive and personal knowledge of the area in which you live, your general contractor will have exclusive connections with the right companies and professionals who can help you with the ins and outs of recovering from storm damage.
This can include insurance companies, as well as public adjusters, who are professionals in the industry of home insurance claims. Along with finding the necessary repair services for your home, you will most likely need to file a claim with your insurance company to receive the payout that is needed to cover the damages.
With the help of a public adjuster who will take care of the entire process for you, the stress of navigating home insurance claims will instantly be lifted off your shoulders as the homeowner.
Besides the additional support that you can expect to gain from a local contractor, this is beneficial for more obvious reasons as well. If you are working with a company on a larger scale, they might be harder to reach when you need them.
When you use a local contractor, on the other hand, you will be able to establish a close relationship where you can call them for anything that you might need in the future.
Mistakes To Avoid When Hiring a General Contractor For Storm Damage
With all of the characteristics that come with finding the best contractor to suit your needs, there are an equal amount of oversights to avoid when doing so. Here are some of the biggest, and most common, mistakes that you will need to avoid when hiring a general contractor for storm damage repair:
Ignoring or Neglecting Online Reviews
In the initial stages of finding a quality contractor for your home project, you will need to gather the information that will help you assess the legitimacy of each candidate, along with what kinds of experiences they have offered to their customers in the past.
This will allow you to get an idea of who you will potentially be working with, and whether or not you even want to purchase their services in the first place. This is one of the most vital steps in the hiring process, and one that should never be ignored or overlooked by the homeowner.
If you don’t take all positive and negative feedback, or the lack thereof, into consideration before you make your final decision, you might find that you have made a huge mistake that will cost you more than the initial repairs would have.
Not Checking Licensing and Documents
While it is true that you must always ask all potential contractors about the licensing requirements that they can meet, you shouldn’t just take their word for it. As previously mentioned, contractors can be some of the most reliable contacts in these types of situations, but they can also see an opportunity to deceive you and act accordingly.
Don’t fall for the common scams that false contractors try to execute when a natural disaster hits a certain neighborhood. Along with confirming that the contractor is licensed and insured before working, ask them to see a physical copy of this documentation.
If you ask for this simple courtesy and the contractor gets upset or goes around the question without supplying the necessary proof, you will be better off not going forward with the business deal.
Allowing an Uninsured Crew To Work On Your Property
Also mentioned previously, hiring a general contractor that holds the proper insurance policy is of utmost importance when you find yourself in a storm damage-related predicament. Along with the head contractor, their entire crew of sub-contractors must have the same coverage.
Just like you will need to check the physical documents of the head contractor when it comes to licensing and insurance, you must do the same thing for everyone who will be present on the job site.
This way, you will be able to filter out who is permitted to be there at any given time, and who can potentially become another liability for you as the homeowner.
Being thorough in this area is increasingly important, and is something that should never be overlooked. You will thank yourself for being as thorough as you were when the job is finally done.
Hiring “Storm Chasers”
Finally, you will need to avoid hiring contractors who are known as “storm chasers”. Some contractors will try to get over on you in your time of desperation, knowing that they don’t meet the proper requirements to provide you with what you are looking for.
Storm chasers, on the other hand, turn to more extensive measures to place inexperienced homeowners under their spell. If you get a knock at the door after a storm has hit and you are promised unrealistic repairs, you should refuse the offer immediately.
Making a mistake like hiring a storm chaser can be the biggest oversight in these types of situations, costing you money for services that don’t match up to what you were guaranteed.
As you can see, there is quite an extensive process that goes into choosing the general contractor that will benefit you the most as a homeowner. Storm damage can be a tricky situation, but it doesn’t have to be. By following standard protocol and avoiding these common mistakes, you will be on your way to building a long-lasting partnership with a dependable contractor in your area.
Before you hire a general contractor to repair damage to your home, make sure that you’ve taken the appropriate steps to have repairs covered by your insurance company. Reach out to Bulldog Adjusters to find out how we can help you get the biggest settlement on your insurance claim!