Californians Reminded to Be Careful When Hiring for Disaster Repairs

March 8, 2006

Californians who have disaster-related damage from the December-January storms and flooding should be careful when hiring unknown contractors to clean up and repair their homes and businesses, state and federal disaster recovery officials reminded.

“Scam artists are always ready to capitalize on the misfortune of others,” said State Coordinating Officer Henry Renteria, director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

Officials advise residents to be especially cautious of door-to-door operators who hand out flyers and business cards, and ask for large cash deposits or full payment in advance. A reliable licensed contractor may be more difficult to find right after a disaster because they are busy. But it is worth the wait to find the right person for the job.

The California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) offers the following suggestions:

* Use reliable, licensed contractors. Check with the Contractors Board at 1-800-321-2752 or online at to make sure the contractor is properly licensed for the work to be done.
* Don’t pay more than 10 percent down on the project price or $1,000, whichever is less;
* Make sure you have a clear written contract that includes a payment schedule and completion date;
* Get at least three estimates to compare prices and services;
* Check with past customers to see if they were satisfied with the work;
* Ask for proof of insurance to make sure the contractor and any employees are covered;
* Don’t make a final payment until the work is completed to your satisfaction.

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