CLEVELAND - Superstorm Sandy has thousands of northeast Ohio homeowners scrambling to find the right contractor to help them clean-up and repair their houses. Making the right choice can save you thousands of dollars and plenty of headaches.
It's always best to find a contractor that is local and has an office that is relatively close to your community. This allows for easy contact with a contractor in the event there is a problem with a renovation job months or years down the road.
Ian Fess and his company 1st Choice Roofing has been serving the area for 17 years. Fess warns consumers about out-of-town contractors who come into storm damaged areas posing as a local businesses.
"They go through and they find a local contractor, and just use their name and their phone number," Fess said. "It gives the appearance they are a local contractor, but when the crews show up, they're from out-of-town. They get paid cash, leave town and there's nobody to back-up the warranty."
Fess recommends consumers check a contractors background and contact information, using the Better Business Bureau's on-line data base.
Homeowners should confirm a contractor is licensed to do work in their community by contacting their city building department.
A storm damage contractor should also be bonded, carry worker compensation insurance and have employees that meet federal OSHA safety standards.
"All of our guys go through 10 hours of mandatory safety classes," said Fess. "There's also a 30-hour class. This way we're doing things the proper way."
"We have to be harnessed on the roof while doing a job. People shouldn't be walking around on your roof that doesn't meet OSHA standards."
Consumers should be wary of any contractor who asks for full payment up-front. It's customary for contractors to only ask for up-front money to cover the cost of materials for the job.
Homeowners should always ask for references and make contact with consumers who have used the contractor they are considering.
All work and materials should be itemized on a written contract that carries a specific completion date for the job.
If a contractor fails to provide a detailed written contract, consumers should strongly consider taking their business elsewhere.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Thirteen homeowners on Colfax Road in Cleveland have been issued home renovation grants as part of a comprehensive plan to improve the neighborhood.
Donna Kaminiski paid all her bills on time, but went without water service for a week because the owner of the other condos didn't pay the bill.