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Repairing Sandy: Use caution

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Posted: 5 pm ET

Northeastern homeowners have taken a beating from Sandy and Athena. As they look toward restoring normalcy and hiring contractors to clean up debris and repair storm damage, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America advises caution.

If a contractor says he's backed by the government or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, don't believe it. FEMA does not endorse individual contractors. If you have questions, call the agency at (800) 621-3362.

Here are some additional guidelines provided by the association to assist you in hiring the best professional:

  • Don’t rush. As much as you want the work to be completed, beware any contractor who presses you to sign a contract immediately, especially one who has come knocking at the door. Shop around and get recommendations if possible.
  • Check credentials. Find out if there are any outstanding complaints against a contractor by contacting the Better Business Bureau or the state attorney general.
  • Compare bids. Try to get at least three estimates in writing before deciding.
  • Don't pay anything until you have a contract. Some contractors will require a down payment to begin work, but never pay the entire amount until the job is completed to your satisfaction. Rather than paying with cash, use a credit card or check to have the extra protection of a record of payment.

Keep up with your wealth and mortgages, and follow me on Twitter @JudyMartel.

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