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Disaster Recovery: Avoid Home Repair Fraud

Disaster Relief

This article provides information about how to avoid home repair fraud after a disaster.

Here, find tips for avoiding home repair fraud after a disaster, including getting multiple bids, checking out the contractor, and getting a written contract. Talk to a lawyer about whether you should pay as little as possible upfront and wait to make the final payment until after the work is finished and you are satisfied with the repairs.

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.

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