FOX 8 Defenders: Avoid contractor fraud

FOX 8 Defenders: Avoid contractor fraud

METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Families across the area try to put emotions aside and rebuild their lives. "I don't know how to explain the feeling you know when you just look into your house and see all of that," said flood victim Danny Keicher.

From historic floods to tornadoes, victims deal with tremendous damage. "For most people, the most valuable thing they own is their house," Floyd Simeon said.

As president of the Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans, Simeon says it's important to really examine who you're going to hire to rebuild. "You want to take plenty pictures. Everybody has cameras, video cameras - even if it's just your phone," he said.

Besides documenting the damage, Simeon suggests property owners interview three contractors to do the repairs and vet them. "There's a lot of people who put themselves out as being contractors, that say they're contractors, that have signs on their trucks, that have nice business cards that are not contractors," Simeon said.

Licensed contractors will be registered with the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors, and through the LSLBC's website you can search their database of contractors. "Insurance companies can deny claims or repairs because you haven't used a licensed contractor.  Banks can deny funding, and you really don't have a lot of recourse or as much recourse if somebody does something incorrectly.  A licensed contractor is responsible for their work for periods of time," Simeon said. If they're a licensed residential contractor, they're responsible for anything structural for 10 years, according to Simeon.

Licensed contractors in Louisiana must also carry insurance, but you want to make sure the insurance policy is current.  "What a lot of people will do is take out an insurance policy in January, cancel it in February, but the dating on the document is good for the year," explained Simeon.

The HBA also suggests you ask for a contract. In it, look for detailed proposals. For example, if you're getting a new roof, the contract should spell out the kind of shingles you're going to get.  Also, don't forget to ask for a work schedule and a payment schedule.  Keep in mind, sometimes insurance companies and banks define this.

The HBA also says if you don't have flood insurance, you may want to invest it. If you're in a non flood zone, it can be a minimal annual amount. Plus, if your water heater breaks and floods your home, you would be covered.

Property owners North of the lake who need to make repairs can attend a free Housing Central event next week.  The North Shore Home Builders Association will host a one stop shop of resources Wednesday, April 6th from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Greater Covington Center, Bogue Falaya Hall on N. Jefferson Ave. in Covington.  For more information, call the North Shore Home Builders Association at 985-882-5002.

The FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women also field consumer complaints at 1-877-670-6397 or fill out an online complaint form.

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