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Tips on hiring a licensed contractor to repair damaged homes

ATTENTION FLOOD VICTIMS-TIPS ON HIRING A LICENSED CONTRACTORS TO REPAIR DAMAGED HOMES:

* Get a written estimate. Compare services and prices before making a final decision. Make sure the contractor has a permanent business location in Louisiana.
* Check references. Contractors should be willing to provide names of previous customers.
* Ask for proof of insurance. Verify the contractor carries general liability insurance and workers' compensation. If the contractor is not insu...red, the homeowner may be liable for accidents that occur on the property.
* Use Louisiana licensed contractors. Unlicensed and out of state contractors are not accountable and can leave Louisiana without consequence after performing substandard or deficient work. An occupational license is NOT a contractors license. Beware of door-to-door out of state salesman. It is a violation of law for an unlicensed contractor to perform repair work valued more than $7,500.00.
* Insist on a written contract. A complete contract should clearly state all tasks to be performed, all costs and the payment schedule. Insert a definite completion date in the contract. A verbal promise is probably not enforceable. Never sign a blank contract or one with blank spaces. Verify the contract states who will pay for all materials and will apply for permits or licenses. Have a lawyer review the contract, if unsure.
* Set a payment schedule in the contract. Make the final payment only after the work has been completed to your satisfaction. Do not pay more than a 10% as initial payment or deposit upon signing an agreement.
* Get guarantees in writing. Any guarantees and warranties should be written into the contract.
* Obtain a local building permit. Permits will be required for site work other than demolition and for reconstruction.
* Make final payments only after the work and punch list is completed. Do not sign completion papers or make the final payment until the all work and punch list items are fully completed to your satisfaction. Do not allow your progress payments get ahead of completed work.
* Pay by Check. Avoid on-the-spot cash payments. The safest route is to write a check for payment. Keep all receipts.
* Beware of change orders. Changes should truly be for unforeseeable exceptions. Be skeptical of change orders for work covered by the original contract and estimate.
* Subcontractor and Suppliers. Keep the names and contact info of all subcontractors and trades utilized by your contractor. Verify subcontractors are licensed. Demand proof of payment by contractor prior to a progress payment or subcontractor can lien you home.
* Contractors Recommended by Claims Adjuster. You have the right to hire the contractor of your choice. Report any claims adjuster who attempts to convince you to hire a specific contractor.

Call Attorney Doug Sunseri at 504-837-1304 or my cell at 504-662-9596 if you have any questions regarding any aspect of your flood issues.

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