How to Hire a Contractor after a Disaster

Homes and buildings with water damage from hurricanes and floods should be dried within 48 hours to prevent mold contamination. However, in disaster situations, such rapid restoration is often difficult. Experienced restoration and remediation companies are often inundated with calls and less reputable operators often surface to fill the gap. In certain states, including Texas, out-of-state mold contractors and remediators are exempted from license and tax requirements. Consumers should be wary of operators seeking to take advantage of the situation.

Warning Signs

Look for the following red flags when interviewing potential contractors. If you notice any, it may be better to find someone else to do the work.  It is tempting to rush into a project when there is immediate and urgent work to be done and you want to get your family back home, but a poorly done restoration and remediation effort can cause significant problems for years to come.

  • Contractor wants 50% deposit plus cost of materials in advance.
  • Contractor offers financing of the deductible or other significant costs.
  • Contractor offers to act as the homeowner’s agent in representing them to FEMA and lists themselves as beneficiaries.
  • Contractor and the assessor that writes the scope and/or verifies completion of work are the same company.
  • Contractor emphasizes cost saving over relationship, trust and final warranty of satisfaction.
  • Contractor is not licensed, bonded, or insured.

Tips for Hiring a Contractor

  • Obtain references from your insurance company, friends, or neighbors.
  • Check references provided by your contractor.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau*
  • Make sure the contractor is licensed, bonded and insured
  • Hire contractors certified by reputable trade organizations such as IAQAIICRCASCR International.
  • Make sure your contractor is knowledgeable about and works according to established industry standards and guidelines.

What to Ask for when Contracting for Restoration Work

  • Compare the amount of the insurance check with the estimate by the restoration contractor. They aren’t always the same but should be close to each other for the covered part of the loss.
  • Agree on completion criteria prior to beginning work.
  • Do not pay for all the work up front. Typically a deposit of 30% of the estimate is sufficient.  Pay another 30% at the half-way point and 30% at completion.
  • Confirm type/quality of materials installed are same as those specified, inspect and verify satisfactory completion of work before paying the final 10%.

This article was written with information from the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) and is intended to provide assistance anyone affected by flooding, water damage, and resulting mold.
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