STPSO urges caution when hiring contractors after the floods - FOX 8, WVUE,, weather, app, news, saints

STPSO urges caution when hiring contractors after the floods

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North Shore flooding, March 2015 (FOX 8 Photo) North Shore flooding, March 2015 (FOX 8 Photo)

In the wake of widespread flooding and related damage to homes and businesses, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office on Tuesday issued a warning to residents to be on the lookout for predatory contractors and potential contractor fraud.

Sgt. Van James Laurent Jr. offered the following tips to help protect residents:

• Hire only Louisiana State licensed contractors.

• Get at least three local references and verify their work.

• Get at least three bids on the work to be done.

• Get a written contract, and don't sign anything, agree to anything or pay anything until you understand the terms of your contract.

• Once a contract is signed pay only 10 percent down or $1,000, whichever is less.

• Don't let payments get ahead of the work completed.

• Don't make final payment until you are completely satisfied with the job.

Laurent said it's important to verify a contractor’s license or registration number by contacting the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors at 1-800-256-1392 or prior to signing any contracts or paying any money. The board can verify if the person soliciting business is licensed in the state and parish. The website will also indicate whether the contractor has had any previous complaints and if they are a reputable company.

Contractors' licenses are required for all commercial projects costing more than $50,000, all residential new construction of single family homes costing more than $75,000, all home improvement or remodeling projects costing more than $7,500 and all hazardous materials or mold remediation work.

Never apply for a building permit on behalf of the contractor. Laurent said this is a crime, and both the homeowner and the contractor may be liable.

“The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office takes contractor fraud cases very seriously, and we do not want to see any of our residents, who have already lost property to the recent floods, being revictimized by unscrupulous business practices or predatory contractors,” Sheriff Jack Strain said.

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