Harding Advisories/Notices

3/14/2018 - Winter Storm Clean up and Construction Projects

Winter Storm Clean up and Construction Projects

The Township of Harding would like to caution residents about the selection of contractors.

Hiring a Contractor

After a disaster, sales people often go from door-to-door canvassing neighborhoods to generate new business, offering their cleanup and repair services. Below is a recommended list of steps to take in order to protect yourself as a homeowner.

  • Check all references when considering a contractor, especially if the contractor comes to your door and offers to do repairs. Inquire about the contractor's professional reputation by talking with banks, building material suppliers, the contractor's previous customers, the Homebuilder's Association, and the Better Business Bureau.

  • Don't be rushed into signing a contract with a contractor. It is a good practice to collect many business cards, interview several contractors, and request multiple bids for comparison. Make sure to read the fine print on all estimates and contracts.

  • Since it may not always be possible to deal with local contractors in a disaster situation where local contractors are swamped with repair business, make sure to thoroughly check references as discussed above.

  • Get everything the contractor discusses in writing. Make sure that the contract is well written. If the contractor provides guarantees, they should be written into the contract clearly stating what is guaranteed, who is responsible for the guarantee, and how long the guarantee is valid. Also, if changes or modifications occur in the contract terms, they should be acknowledged by all parties in writing.

  • Never sign a contract with blank spaces that have not been filled in.

  • Consider having a lawyer review the proposed contract for your protection before you sign if substantial costs are involved.

  • Never pay a contractor for the entire project in advance or before the work is completed.

  • Ensure construction permits are obtained for work involving building, plumbing, electrical, and mechanical and fire systems.

  • Be especially suspicious of door-to-door sales people who make unrealistically low estimates, refuse to leave a contract overnight, or try to sell their services by playing on your emotions.

  • Remember that Federal law requires a three-day "cooling off” period for unsolicited door-to-door sales of more than $25.00.

  • Ask the contractor if he/she carries general liability and workers compensation insurance. Request a certificate of insurance (COI) from the contractor you choose that shows the name of the insurance company, policy number and policy limits the contractor carries. You may contact the insurance company directly to verify information on the COI.

  • Keep a job file containing all papers related to work being done. This file should include the signed contract and any change orders; plans and specifications; bills and invoices; canceled checks; certificates of insurance; lien releases from subcontractors and material suppliers; a record sheet on each contractor listing the work performed; the estimated length of the job; and any letters, notes, or correspondence of any kind with the contractor.

  • Unfortunately, delays happen in construction projects. Although you may clearly understand the terms of your contract, the contractor may experience circumstances (such as weather) that prevent the construction work from remaining on schedule. This is just a normal part of a construction project.

                    To see the Federal Emergency Management Guide to hiring contractors: CLICK HERE

         None of the above should be interpreted as providing legal advice on any particular matter; survivors are encouraged to seek legal advice from an attorney if they have any questions or problems with contractors