Save yourself from a contractor rip off

HOUSTON For many, they don't even know where to begin. Consumers are afraid they'll be ripped off by contractors looking to make a buck, but there are ways to find the right person for the job.

Here are some resources that should help you from giving all your insurance money to someone who you'll never see again.

Lou Ella Burrell's home was hit hard by Hurricane Ike.

"It shook the house really bad, I have cracks in the rooms the floors, the slats have been separated," she said.

From roof leaks to broken floors, Burrell's home needs help.

"I put buckets up here and we got water in there," Burrell said.

But Burrell is afraid to even start the process of rebuilding.

"It looks like it is ready to fall, and I don't what to do," she admitted. "I don't know who to call, how do you know who to call?"

Before you sign a contract to fix your home you should know about four4 resources available to help you find someone who will stick around to finish the job.

The Greater Houston Builders Association has a list a check list on how to avoid rip offs and a list of members ready to work.

Also, check out the Houston Better Business Bureau Web site. There you can find a complete list of contractors approved by the BBB.

"Look at their complaint history, you know companies are going to have complaints, but it really is what they do with them and how many they have had and look at that," she advised.

The state of Texas also has Web site to help your search. State law requires residential remodelers and builders based in Texas to register with the Texas Residential Contractor Commission. You can search the site to find registered builders in your area, but you will not find roofers. The state exempts roofers from having to register with the TRCC however the city of Houston has a voluntary registration for roofers. That's something the city just started up a few days ago.

"The main thing is that when you get a roofer or anyone about to make repairs to your home, make sure that they are bonded and have some type on insurance," said Alvin Wright with the city of Houston.

The city makes sure roofers have insurance before the company's are listed, and the city site is updated three times a week.

So far we have not seen a huge amount of rip offs with contractors, but officials I spoke with say it's just a matter of time before it starts becoming a problem.

We have link to all four web sites on my consumer blog.

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