The disastrous floods throughout Middle Tennessee have left many in our area dealing with damage to their homes that requires immediate repair.  Contractors and home restoration services will certainly be in high demand, which may open the door to less reputable contractors trying to exploit desperate consumers. In the rush to get your home restored, it is critical that you know what to do when selecting a home repair/restoration professional in order to prevent further hardship.

Here are a few tips:

Get an estimate in writing from your contractor.  Despite the urge to get the work started as soon as possible, document your engagement with the contractor. Sure, there may be unforeseen issues resulting from the damage, but you are entitled to some fair advance expectation of what the job will cost. Getting an estimate in advance places the burden on the contractor to provide you with notice of those unforeseen issues…and advance notice of any increase in costs.

Be sure that the contractor you hired is licensed with the state.  In the rush to get somebody—sometimes anybody—working on the damage, a homeowner may neglect to take the “due diligence” precautionary measures of vetting the contractor with whom they are dealing. The State of Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors has an that allows homeowners to investigate whether the contractors they are dealing with are licensed.

If you live in an impacted area, you may be approached by door-to-door contractor solicitations. This could be a legitimate contractor reaching out to people who need help the most, or it could be somebody seeking to exploit other people’s hardship. Again, check on the contractor through the State’s online records, or call the State contractor board at (800) 544-7693. Additionally, the Tennessee Secretary of State maintains records of all corporate entities authorized to do business in Tennessee and provides an online database with those companies. Ask questions about the contractor and their particular experience, and, of course, get it all in writing.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek guidance There are many government and private institutions offering guidance and help in dealing with the aftermath of a flood, including:

Tennessee Emergency Management Agency for specific guidance as to available services in Tennessee.

Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors

Tennessee Secretary of State

Local resources, such as blogs, may have the most up-to-date information on aid and agencies seeking to provide relief.