RELATED: Multiple fatalities after massive blast in NW Houston
Make sure you do your research and check out any business thoroughly. If a business approaches you and offers to repair your home, ask for contact information to give yourself time to research the business before making the commitment.
Here are the tips you should follow:
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Let them know about the damage so they can determine immediately what they will and will not cover and any other information needed to make a claim. You also want to have your own documentation of the damage to your property by taking photos, if possible. Now, if you're forced to stay in a temporary location, make sure to keep any receipts for lodging or food. These costs could be covered by your insurance depending on your policy.
- Avoid high pressure sales pitches. It's going to be tempting to get things back to normal as fast as possible, but you want to make sure you're being as pro-active as you can when selecting a company, especially when it comes to major repairs. Take time to shop around and get at least three to four estimates based on your specific materials.
- You also want to be wary of door-to-door solicitors who claim to have left-over materials from a job "down the street" or who do not have a permanent place of business. That's a big red flag. Also, be wary if a worker shows up to your doorstep to announce your home is unsafe. In this case, if you are concerned about structural damage have an engineer or building official inspect it.
- When you do find a business to hire, require a written contract agreement with them. It should specify the work to be done, any materials being used, as well as the price breakdown.
- Any promises made orally should be written into contract as well including warranties on materials or labor. Make sure you have their name, address, and phone number along with a start and end date of the work included in the contract. Never sign a blank contract and make sure a copy of the signed contract is given to you at the time of the signature. Always remember, in Texas, you have three days to cancel any contract for a sale made at your home.
- When doing your research, you also want to make sure to verify if the business itself is insured. Request proof of a current insurance certificate covering workman's compensation, property damage and of course personal liability.
- Never pay in full for all repairs in advance, and do not pay in cash. Companies may ask for a deposit, but the BBB suggests that no more than one-third of the job be paid up front.
Follow Chelsey Hernandez on Twitter and Facebook.