After a major disaster, policyholders will be faced with an important decision – which restoration contractor to hire? Many policyholders will be approached directly by strangers with construction contracts and verbal promises that seem too good to be true. Policyholders should never sign a contract with anyone who pressures them to do so. Policyholders should always research the persons and entities with whom they will sign a reinstatement agreement.
IN Pay up!: Prevent a disaster with your own insurance companyI provide some background and discussion on this topic about what type of restoration contractor should be hired:
Although rarely thought of as such, entrepreneurs are also loss experts. They are on site and do the actual work of repairing and restoring property after losses. They know as much, if not more, about certain aspects of the structural repair process than actual adjusters. …
Reputable and quality-conscious contractors can be valuable assets for policyholders. The average policyholder has no way of knowing when the construction work is done correctly. Construction and restoration are qualified professions. Using the wrong type of roof can lead to problems in the future. Using the wrong nails on a particular shingle or not placing the nails according to specification can result in leaks or damage to the roof in high winds or heavy rain. The construction details are important – and the average policyholder simply does not have the expertise to recognize the fine details of quality construction. Good entrepreneurs do that, making them experts in their specific domain. No one knows a quality roof repair better than a qualified and experienced roofer. When you hire your own contractors, as long as they are reputable, bonded and willing to guarantee the work to the manufacturers, you can better trust them to explain how to do the job right.
Even when you can choose your own contractors, the insurance company will still send out their adjusters to influence how repairs are made and the price to be paid. Good quality contractors can push and make sure the work is done right. Compared to the average policyholder, experienced contractors are better equipped to insist that the job is done properly with quality materials according to the manufacturer̵7;s recommended practices.
To be clear: contractors cannot negotiate your claim with the insurance company. It’s a job for you, a certified public adjuster or a lawyer—no one else. However, contractors can act as your eyes and ears on the ground. They can also advocate for you indirectly by doing the work correctly and in accordance with relevant laws. They can also notify you when work is not being done correctly or according to regulations.
When looking for contractors, make sure they are licensed, bonded, credentialed, experienced and reputable. They should have good references and many years of experience. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find good contractors after a major regional disaster, as the best contractors are booked quickly.
You can also hire your own professionals to oversee the restoration process. Owner representatives are found in planning, architecture and engineering companies. You can hire them to be your on-site representative during the repair process and in many cases can even have the cost applied as a reasonable cost of construction. They are not there to manage the contractors. They are there to make sure the contractors do their job right. Good entrepreneurs don’t mind being observed. Only contractors who do low quality work and cut corners don’t want experts looking at them. You can’t always rely on government inspectors to make sure construction is done correctly and legally.
The larger the repair, the greater the need for an on-site representative. The average policyholder does not know how the construction will be done. You need a construction expert to oversee the repairs and make sure they are carried out according to specifications and building regulations. Commercial construction should always have policyholder representatives overseeing the work. Homeowners should also have representatives for major repairs. If your entire house is being gutted and remodeled from top to bottom, you want the job done right by quality workers with your best interests in mind.
IN Don’t make these 7 mistakes when choosing a roofing contractor after a hurricaneI noted a tip from the National Roofing Contractors Association:
Often after a natural disaster, unprofessional contractors will try to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners. If it is necessary to hire a roofing contractor, you should maintain a healthy skepticism about the lowest bid. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Price is only one criterion for choosing a professional roofing contractor; professionalism and quality workmanship must also be considered. Take the time to evaluate potential contractors before starting any new roofing work.
For Hurricane Ian victims, I offer the following tips:
- Choose only a licensed contractor. Ask who has the license and if that person will be on site to supervise construction.
- Only accept a contract based on a written proposal with full written explanations of materials, costs of permits and detailed description of the work to be performed with a price.
- Only accept a restoration contractor with actual backup and proof of their industry professional, manufacturer certifications, association memberships and worker training. Verify what is given to you by a search and call to confirm the evidence.
- Only accept work from those with a fixed business address and who have been in the industry long enough to demonstrate financial stability.
- Only accept a contract with warranties backed by a manufacturer. Construction contracts should have material specifications on work and materials to be used.
- Only accept a contract from a contractor who can show you references in the state; call the references and do a Google search on the company and the people involved. Never be pressured into signing a contract right away.
- Don’t sign with those who demand money upfront before the materials are in place, who say permits are not needed, can’t show proof of insurance, and who can’t do all of these seven points when you show them.
Reputable, experienced, professional contractors do not pressure people to sign contracts. Many storm chasing entrepreneurs use salespeople you will never see again. They are professional salespeople who are skilled at getting people to sign contracts. Who will do the work? Who will be the foreman? Does the contractor mind you hiring an owner’s representative to ensure the work is done correctly?
In this age of false advertising on the Internet, it is important to do your due diligence and find people with a track record of success doing restoration designs.
Finally, the best time to remodel your property is after a major loss. You don’t need to rebuild the structure back to how it was. The cost to repair or replace is only a theoretical amount of money that can be used to rebuild and repair as you wish. Unfortunately, many adjusters and contractors fail to tell policyholders that they have this choice.
Beware, as long as you live, of judging men by their outward appearance.
—Jean de La Fontaine