Surveying your property after it has been ruined by a disaster invokes many emotions: shock, anger, denial, fear, and sadness swirl in your head. The gut need is the same regardless of how you’re feeling, the need to repair the damage and return to your normal life as soon as possible.
But how do you go about doing that?
Your state of shock and upset put you at risk of making critical decisions when you aren’t in a strong emotional state and accepting the first offer of help without rational consideration.
It is crucial that you resist the urge to act quickly and make hasty decisions. Take the time to research and choose a qualified restoration company with a solid track record of good service. A qualified company will have experts to manage a thorough restoration process. They don’t just take care of your possessions, they are committed to minimizing your distress throughout the restoration.
There are many companies out there who target disaster victims as a way of business, reassuring them and convincing them they need to act hastily, and then disappear quickly after doing little work but collecting hefty amounts of money.
Exposing scam artists is not difficult; asking the following questions will quickly establish if they are a company you should trust and hire.
Warning signs and questions to ask potential restoration contractors
Is the restoration company local?
After a widespread disaster, scam companies travel long distances to make a quick buck. Also, be wary if you are approached by someone you haven’t contacted and they offer services, this is a warning flag.
Are you able to find good references?
When getting references, try to get some from people you know who had similar work performed. Many times, your insurance company will provide references for recommended contractors as well.
Check out their online reviews. Companies ask for these reviews from their customers. A less than perfect rating is okay, you are looking more for consistently bad reviews as well as how old the reviews are.
You will also want to look in different places; Facebook, Google, Houzz, Angieslist, BBB, etc. to get an overall feel for the company prior to hiring them.
Does the company provide credentials?
Reputable restoration companies will have their credentials available and will readily provide them. If they are hesitant, take it as a warning sign.
They might have some or all of the following restoration credentials:
- A contractor’s licenses
- Proof of insurance and bonds
- Technician certifications
- Do they have industry certifications or meet the guidelines of the ANSI/IICRC
Does the company provide you with a plan and an estimate?
A reputable firm will give a complete written estimate with costs for each line item, as well as detailed restoration plans that detail personnel needed, equipment to be used, product use, and give a job timeline. Beware of companies providing estimates over the phone or after only a quick survey of the affected areas.
What are their payment terms?
A reputable company will follow strict procedures and estimate the job in a careful and detailed manner.
Some work directly with insurance companies and other restoration companies require payment when services are rendered. If this is the case, you will be reimbursed by your insurance company. The restoration company will help provide the information required by your insurance company.
Can you reach the company at all hours of the day and night?
A legitimate, reliable company offers 24/7/365 availability with phone support at any time of day or night. A good restoration contractor will proactively communicate with you often so you are aware of each task they are doing and get any questions you have answered so you understand the work being performed.
The bottom line
A high-quality and legitimate restoration company repairs more than your property. They assist you through the stress and sadness of losing your belongings and help you heal through their compassion, professionalism, communication, and quality workmanship.
Choosing a scam contractor by mistake can result in a 2nd disaster on top of the one you’ve already experienced. Take the time to make sure you choose slowly and carefully so that you can recover from the disaster you have experienced as quickly as possible.