As everyone gets back to their homes and begins to start the process of cleanup and restoring their home one of the first important steps is choosing the right contractor. There are many online resources to guide you through the proper way to do this many of which we have links to in posts at LAfloodresources.com. Here are a few additional tips which aren’t covered as much, but could be really helpful and worthy of emphasis.
The best way to find a contractor is to go to the http://www.lslbc.louisiana.gov/ (Louisiana Licensing Board for Contractors) and search for licensed contractors in your area. Once you have found several contractors you want to talk to it is also a good idea to see if they also belong to their local home builders association. While this is not necessary for a good licensed contractor, this is just an added measure to ensure their reliability.
Once you choose a contractor be sure to get a copy of their license certificate to keep in your files. If for any reason you run into problems with the contractor you can file a complaint with the Louisiana Licensing Board for Contractors so there is recourse for fraudulent activities.
When large flood events like this happen the supply of licensed contractors in Louisiana is overextended. There probably won’t be enough contractors to service the need. There may also be contractors from out of state who come in. Be wary of hiring out of state licensed contractors.
Once you hire a contractor and agree on an estimate, it is standard industry practice for them to require 10-20% of the estimate to cover the costs to get the job started. You may then have to agree upon a payment schedule as the work proceeds.
In regards to estimates, remodeling is very different from home building. In home building estimates can be very accurate because each aspect of the project is controlled by the builder, to a certain degree. In a remodel, things could be revealed during the remodel that the contractor could not account for during the initial estimate. Things like excessive mold or bacteria growth, rotting, original builder flaws that were covered up, damages to electrical, plumbing, a/c, etc. any extras that a contractor wants to charge you for related to potential mold (and this is typically where the schemers do their work) can be verified by a pre or post remediation clearance inspection. No contractor unless they are certified in mold should make a determination on potential mold remediation especially those tricky cases. Direct any odd mold related questions to the pros and let the mold inspectors do their job.
During the process of choosing a contractor it is likely you will talk to 3 or 4 good contractors you like and you will need to look at examples of their work to see if their style and quality fits what you are looking for. Also realize you may have to concede on style and quality if because of the shortage of licensed contractors or the speed in which you want to get your house finished. This is a personal choice you have to make.
Finally, a few red flags that should raise eyebrows and make you ask questions large deposits, really quick or general pricing, aversion to getting a licensed mold professional to inspect the home before closing walls, gutting trying to close the walls within days after gutting, not talking about specific fixtures and selections before giving a specific price, unwillingness to give you specific references locally with contact info.