Tips for Recovering from Winter Storm Damage
By John Voket
Winter weather is inevitable, but thanks to a comprehensive package of preventative tips we'll continue reviewing in this second of two reports, homeowners won't be easily victimized by winter storm clean-up scammers.
Connecticut's Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris recently released a package of tips for homeowners suffering winter storm damage or who need to get cleaned-up or dug out fast. They include these points:
*Commissioner Harris says to verify the registration, insurance, and if appropriate, the professional license of any worker before agreeing to let them work on your property. (Find out how to verify a contractor's license through your local, regional or state building department or consumer agency.) All home improvement contractors are likely registered with some official agency where you live, similar to Connecticut.
*To protect yourself, contracts should be required for most jobs over $200. No matter how urgent the situation, it’s best to get a detailed contract. Check all the terms and conditions, materials, start date, end date and costs, and if necessary, insist that any changes be written in. Both the consumer and contractor must sign and date the contract, and the consumer should get a completed copy for safekeeping. And don't be rushed into a contract - Harris says take your time; this is a legal, binding document.
*Contractors should carry their own liability insurance and must be able to produce an insurance certificate as proof. If the contractor has employees, that contractor should carry worker’s compensation insurance and must be able to provide proof, if that is required in your state. A certificate of insurance should carry the name of the insurance company and the homeowner is urged to call the insurance agency on the certificate to confirm that coverage. To verify if an insurance agent or agency is licensed, contact your state or county Insurance Department.
*A homeowner likely has final responsibility for making sure that any required building permit is in place before work starts. This is for your protection, to make sure the final job complies with all local and state building codes and requirements.
*And we'll reiterate a key point from our first segment - NEVER pay in advance for any work, especially in an emergency situation. And payment should be made by credit card or check, rather than cash.
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