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Tips for hiring the right hurricane repair contractors

Facing hurricane damage after last season's devastating blow? Feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of getting repairs done in a reasonable time frame - and done well?

You're not alone.

Many Florida homeowners and condo associations are struggling to find quality contractors in the aftermath of Irma. Choosing the right contractor is a critical decision.

One of our firm's founding attorneys, Alan Tannenbaum, addressed this important issue at the Hurricane Recovery expo in Sarasota. His remarks were recently featured in the Herald-Tribune. We've summarized his tips below.

Don't leave it to your insurance company

Since your insurance is footing the bill, you may be tempted to go with whomever they recommend. Yet don't take their word for it. Even though you're not paying out of pocket, you have to live with the results. You may also have to contribute once the insurance money runs out. Put simply, you have the highest stake in the matter, not the insurance company.

Don't rush into it

Hiring the right contractor - one with the experience and qualifications to do the job well - can spare you countless headaches down the road.

Don't just pick the first person who knocks on your door. In the wake of catastrophic events like hurricanes, the market gets flooded with unlicensed and unscrupulous workers. Many have no qualms about taking advantage of desperate circumstances to make a quick buck.

To compound the matter, the Florida construction market was tight to begin with, making it difficult to find quality contractors on short notice. Nonetheless, it's worth the wait to get a contractor you trust.

Do your homework

Invest the time and effort upfront to do your research. This means:

  • Ensuring that the contractor is licensed and insured
  • Asking for references (and following up on them)
  • Having a lawyer look over the contract to make sure your rights are protected

In addition, consider enlisting a construction consultant (often a retired builder) to vet the contractor and supervise the work.

Set yourself up for success

While these tips are especially relevant to hurricane repairs, they apply to repair and renovation work in general. Far too many homeowners (as well as HOAs and COAs) end up mired in costly disputes because of poor quality workmanship, poorly drafted contracts and countless other issues.

When you're already dealing with the stress and expense hurricane damage, that's the last thing you need on your plate.

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