Avoiding fraud after a storm
Here are a few tips to consider when hiring a legitimate building contractor:
Always use a licensed local contractor backed by reliable references.
In Florida, contractors are required to carry general liability insurance and worker’s compensation.
Require a written contract with anyone you hire. Be sure to read and understand the contract. Never sign a blank contract and never pay more than half the cost of the job upfront. Be sure to get a written receipt for any payment.
If one estimate seems much lower than the others and sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many unethical contractors provide low-ball bids that seem attractive. But the contractors are often uninsured and may charge substantial cancellation fees.
Never pay for work in full in advance. The Better Business Bureau recommends a consumer pay half or less of the contract price before the contractor begins repairs and the remaining balance once the work is complete and the owner is satisfied.