Saturday, April 10, 1999

Don't rush repairs after storm

Enquirer contributor

        As a builder, I have witnessed the aftermath of tornadoes, violent windstorms, fires and floods. The common denominator to all of these is damage, often catastrophic and on a very personal level.

        When dealing with damage to your home, keep in mind that it can be repaired. Calm down, take a deep breath and consider these tips.

        First, realize that hundreds of others were affected by Friday's tornado. Then consider that prior to the tornado, every contractor worth his or her salt was busy and had two to four months of work scheduled.

        In normal day-to-day activity, supply and demand of services usually are balanced. As quickly as the tornado appeared, it has tipped the scales. There is probably so much damage that area contractors will be backlogged for months, possibly even a year.

        Before the tornado, there was a finite number of good and honest contractors. Others are either fairly good, not so good, or plain bad.

        Don't panic and start frantically calling contractors. Remember that if you choose a not-so-good contractor and the repair work that company does has to be repeated, this secondary work probably will not be covered by insurance.

        It is smarter to make temporary repairs to secure your home or other structure. Then, you can:

        • Develop a list of what has to be done to permanently repair the damage. Make the list detailed, room by room. This list probably will become an integral part of your repair contract.

        • Put together a list of good contractors who will bid the job. It is vital that you accept the fact that permanent repairs probably will take a while to complete. Decide that long-lasting repair work is worth the wait.

        Ask friends, neighbors, relatives and office workers about contractors they have used. Soon, your list should include several good contractors. Next, you need to identify the professionals.

        • Verify that contractors under consideration are licensed and bonded.

        • Think about using a standardized form to be filled out by each contractor you are considering. The form should list exactly what your job entails and what each aspect will cost. A standardized form will allow you to easily compare each bid; each contractor will have to give you the same information. A professional contractor will not hesitate to fill out this form.

        If you do not use a standardized form, you run the risk of choosing your contractor on the basis of feelings, not facts. This is dangerous, and you don't need more problems.

        Sources for evaluating home-repair contractors: • Better Business Bureau: 421-3015. • Ohio Valley chapter of National Association of the Remodeling Industry: (800) 498-6274.


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