For most people, owning a home is a huge investment. Other than the home purchase, a renovation or restoration project may be the largest expense a family will incur. If an emergency or natural disaster causes damage, it may be difficult to focus on the importance of an ethical and experienced contractor.

Events that can require restoration

Yourwayhomeaz.com notes that floods, earthquakes and fires are natural disasters that can require restoration. When a disaster occurs, contact your insurance company. The firm will send an adjuster to your home to assess the damage.

The adjuster will compute the total cost of the damage. Your insurance company’s home office will then analyze the dollar amount of coverage in your policy. The insurer will contact you to let you know the dollar amount of your claim that will be covered by insurance.

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A reliable restoration company

Many dependable restoration companies get referrals from insurance companies. Your insurance agent wants to make sure that your restoration is handled professionally. Referring a professional helps the insurance agent build a relationship with you. You can contact the business they refer to you, or find your own company.

Regardless of how you find a restoration company, here are some critical tips to find a professional firm:

  • Proper company insurance: To protect your property, a restoration firm needs to have proper insurance. The company should obtain a general liability quote and secure coverage. This policy will compensate the homeowner if the restoration firm is negligent. That negligence may relate to local building codes, or to some other type of law or regulation.
  • References: The company should be willing to provide references. Preferably, the firm should give you references for multiple customers who’ve recently had restoration work performed. Referrals are a great way to make a judgment on a company’s reputation.
  • Better Business Bureau/ media reports: Check your local Better Business Bureau website for comments or complaints about the company. Simply Google the company name and see if there have been any recent articles or blogs about the business.

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Avoiding red flags

Houselogic.com explains some situations that should raise concerns about a potential restoration firm:

  • Request for a large deposit: Never prepay more than $1,000 of 10% of the job’s cost- whichever amount is lower. A deposit is only needed to show that you’re a serious customer. A reputable restoration company should be able to finance the labor and materials for the job- and get access to any needed equipment.
  • Verbal changes to the contract: Any changes to the planned work should be discussed in advance with the client. The changes are agreed to, the written contract should be changed. Both the firm and the customer should initial the changes to a contract. Verbal changes are not appropriate.
  • Not obtaining a building permit: All restoration jobs should require a local city permit. The permit allows building inspectors to check on the project to make sure the work meets city building codes. A reputable company should not have any problem with getting a permit for your job.

A home restoration or renovation is a large financial commitment. Do your homework before you hire a contractor. Even if you’re dealing with damage from a flood or fire, invest the time to hire an experienced and ethical contractor.