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Disaster Recovery: Avoid Home Repair Fraud

This article provides information about how to avoid home repair fraud after a disaster. This article is from Lone Star Legal Aid.

Important Steps

Get several bids.

  • Try to get written bids or estimates from at least three different contractors.
  • Check out the contractor.
  • Get the contractor's full name, address, and phone number.
  • Ask for references and call them.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau and courthouse for criminal history and civil cases against the contractor.
  • For repairs that cost more than $10,000, ask the contractor for a copy of their Certificate of Registration with the Texas Residential Construction Commission.
  • Be careful when dealing with contractors who have out-of-state license plates.

 Get it in writing.

  • Get a written contract.
  • Specify the work to be done.
  • Specify the price.
  • Don't sign anything you don't understand.

 Control the money.

  • Do not pay for the entire job up front.
  • Try to pay as little as possible up front.
  • It is against the law for contractors in disaster areas to take any money up front unless they have a local office in your county or one county over for at least one year.
  • Insist on waiting to pay the full amount until after the work is finished.
  • You are protected by special rules if the contractor does not have a local office in your county or the next county over.
  • Do not make the final payment until you have inspected the work. Make sure you are completely satisfied with the repairs.
  • Do not pay in cash.

Lone Star Legal Aid's original fact sheet on this topic is here.