Many homeowners in Central Illinois were devastatingly impacted by the storm that arrived last fall- home repairs continue to ensue 6 months later. As a local contractor, it is our responsibility and duty to both inform and educate the Bloomington/Normal area in regards to the risks of out of town contractors, commonly known as “storm chasers”.
The exterior construction business is a rather large portion of all remodeling that takes place on homes; it continues to have national, year over year growth. As the demand for exterior construction needs rises, the population of “storm chasers” has proportionately grown. These contractors will follow storm activity nationally, never staying too long in one place. It is commonplace for “storm chasers” to ascend upon a storm ravaged area with a sales staff exceeding twenty sales people. These sales people will go door-to-door knocking and asking for permission to inspect the damaged roof, siding, gutters, and/or air conditioner. Upon completion of the inspection, the sales staff may ask to contact your insurance company directly; they may even ask for a signature seeking permission. Be cautious and hesitant of what you sign- read all contracts and legal documents carefully; many of these permission slips and documents have a clause requiring the homeowner to employ said contractor upon an insurance settlement.
Feel free to contact your insurance company for contractor recommendations. For example, Country Companies’ adjusters have a policy in place where they can recommend three contractors. State Farm has a preferred vendor list. However, most insurance companies have additional policies in place to attempt to mitigate their liability to the homeowner in the event of the contractor not completing the work in a professional manner. This is the exact moment where it becomes the homeowners responsibility to perform their due diligence. The majority of insurance companies nationally place a one-year timeframe upon the initiation of a claim from a storm. This being said, unless there is imminent damage, most homeowners have time to initiate an insurance claim.
The following are a list of bullet points on ways to perform said diligence:
-Run “construction storm chasers” through whatever Internet Search Engine you use.
-If a salesman comes to your door, do not sign anything. Please take time to review the estimate and the contractor.
-Inquire as to where the company is physically located and the length of time in that location.
-If it is an out of town contractor, inquire what type of service after the sale will you get. Is the contractor willing to drive, in some cases, hundreds of miles to return for service? Please get this portion in writing.
-Please demand copies of both Liability and Workmen’s Compensation Insurance.
-Ask to see required state permits and licenses. Both contractors and insurance adjusters have to be licensed by state agencies.
-Inquire if the company has employees performing the work or will it be subcontracted out. If it is subcontracted out, demand copies of the Subcontractors Insurance as well. Ask to meet the Subcontractor that will be working on your home prior to work being started.
Please utilize the above questions. There are many other tools available for a homeowner to use. Such as, Internet reviews, local business associations and reviews, BBB, and referrals. We urge you to use these resources to determine the caliber of your potential contractor.