Flood Survivors Should be Cautious When Hiring Contractors
The following content was produced by FEMA and is being republished here by Congressman Garret Graves' office as a courtesy to flood-impacted constituents of Louisiana's Sixth District.
Louisiana flood recovery continues thanks to the work of committed citizens, businesses, government agencies and faith-based, community and volunteer organizations.
Unfortunately, some contractors seeking to exploit survivors often appear in a disaster’s wake. Survivors who hire contractors to repair and rebuild homes should be cautious.
Consumers working with contractors should keep the following tips in mind:
- Contractors must be licensed or registered to do work in Louisiana.
- Down payments for repair work should not exceed 10 percent of the total cost.
- Contractors should not be paid for work that is not complete. Survivors should never hesitate to ask contractors for identification.
- Never provide financial information over the phone.
- Never pay contractors in cash.
- Verify contractors’ license or registration number with the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors at www.lacontractor.org or call 800-256-1392.
- Obtain three written estimates for repair and rebuilding work. Check credentials and contact your local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce to learn about any complaints against the contractor or business.
- Before repairs begin, make sure to have a written contract detailing all the work to be performed, the costs, a projected completion date and how to negotiate changes and settle disputes.
The Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors has the authority to place stop-work orders when contractors or subcontractors are found to be unlicensed. For more information, see www.lslbc.louisiana.gov. For complaints, call 800-256-1392 or email email@example.com.
Before repairs or rebuilding begins, permits from local floodplain management and building officials should be obtained. For more information, see www8.dotd.la.gov/lafloods/community_contacts.aspx.
Louisiana Attorney General’s office offers the following tips:
- Take a photo of your contractor, his/her vehicle and its license plate.
- Take a photo of the contractor’s business card and his/her driver’s license.
- Photograph or scan his/her contracting license and insurance.
- Photograph or scan the contract made with him/her.
- Photograph or scan all checks and money orders made as payments to the contractor.
- Preserve all these photographs by emailing them to yourself and a trusted companion and/or by saving them in a cloud-based application.
If survivors suspect anyone – an inspector, contractor, disaster survivor or someone posing as one of these – of fraudulent activities, call 800-323-8603 or TTY 844-889-4357. You may also contact local law enforcement officials.
Consumers may report fraud or sign up for consumer alerts by calling Louisiana Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-351-4889 or visiting www.ag.state.la.us.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/femaregion6 and the FEMA Blog at blog.fema.gov.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For more information, applicants may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling (800) 659-2955, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or visiting SBA’s website at SBA.gov/disaster Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call (800) 877-8339.