Disaster Recovery: Avoid Home Repair Fraud
Get several bids.
- Try to get written bids or estimates from at least three different contractors.
- Check out the contractor.
- Get the contractor's full name, address, and phone number.
- Ask for references and call them.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau and courthouse for criminal history and civil cases against the contractor.
- For repairs that cost more than $10,000, ask the contractor for a copy of their Certificate of Registration with the Texas Residential Construction Commission.
- Be careful when dealing with contractors who have out-of-state license plates.
Get it in writing.
- Get a written contract.
- Specify the work to be done.
- Specify the price.
- Don't sign anything you don't understand.
Control the money.
- Do not pay for the entire job up front.
- Try to pay as little as possible up front.
- It is against the law for contractors in disaster areas to take any money up front unless they have a local office in your county or one county over for at least one year.
- Insist on waiting to pay the full amount until after the work is finished.
- You are protected by special rules if the contractor does not have a local office in your county or the next county over.
- Do not make the final payment until you have inspected the work. Make sure you are completely satisfied with the repairs.
- Do not pay in cash.
Lone Star Legal Aid's original fact sheet on this topic is here.