No matter how urgent your need for repairs, take the time to hire the right contractors to help you rebuild your home/business. You may need to hire certified technicians to assess your home/business for possible structural, electrical, or natural gas-related safety issues before restoring energy supplies. You may also encounter dishonest or unqualified contractors trying to take advantage of disaster victims. Learn all you can about restoration requirements and your contractor—especially if he or she solicits you.
- Contact your local city or county building inspectors for information on structural safety codes and standards that may govern the way you clean and rebuild your home/business.
- Take time to fully assess the damage that must be repaired. Obtain multiple opinions and quotes.
- Take pictures for insurance and disaster assistance claims before taking steps to rebuild or throwing things away. Contact your insurance provider to discuss your options.
- Be absolutely sure the contractor you consider hiring is qualified, honest, and registered with the State—before you sign a contract or make a down payment.
- Federal, State, and local officials may be able to direct you to certified contractors, and they may have programs to help you schedule and pay for assessments and repairs. Learn more
- How did you hear about this contractor? Unregistered contractors often advertise through flyers posted in the grocery stores of storm-affected areas, or through online listings.
- Does the contractor have references? Has the business been the subject of consumer complaints?
- Insist on seeing a copy of his or her liability insurance policy, and contact the insurer to make sure the policy is valid.
- Never pay the full price up-front. It is unusual to pay for the entire home improvement project in advance. A general rule of thumb is to pay no more than one-third before, one-third halfway through, and one-third upon completion.
- Demand a written contract, and make sure you understand and agree to all of the terms and conditions.
Disclaimer: Because every emergency is different, it is important for your safety that you follow the directives of your state and local emergency management authorities and local utilities. The information provided on DOE's website is intended for general informational purposes only and is not an endorsement of any particular material or service. Before engaging in any activities that could impact utility services such as electricity or natural gas, contact your local utility to ensure that the activities are done safely.
For additional emergency-planning resources, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency's website, ready.gov. State and local emergency management authorities and local utilities may also provide helpful guidance.