If your home has suffered a fire, flood or natural disaster, of course you want to repair the damage quickly and get back to normal. Unfortunately, that rush to repair one’s home can be the opening for an unscrupulous contractor. To make sure you are protected from con artists, take the following steps:

1) Verify that any contractor you consider hiring is licensed, and check to see if the contractor has been disciplined or if the license has been suspended or revoked. Builders and contractors are required to be licensed. If the contractor is not licensed, contact your local authorities because failure to obtain a license may be a criminal violation.

2) Get a written contract signed by all parties, and read all of the fine print before signing.

3) Beware of an arbitration clause in your contract. If the contract contains an agreement to arbitrate, you may be giving up your right to bring a legal court action against the contractor. You may also be limiting the State of Michigan’s authority to initiate a free proceeding against the contractors’s license.

4) Make sure the contractor obtains all of the required permits. If the contractor asks you to obtain the permits, that could be a sign that the contractor is not licensed or has had problems with the local building department in the past.

5) Never pay in full up front. Make sure the contract allows you to make payments as parts of the job are completed. Final payment should not be due until the contractor has obtained all approvals from local inspectors.

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