This last storm, hurricane Michael left damage from the Gulf Coast all the way through Virginia. Many houses were left damaged, trees down, power lines down, missing shingles on roofs, siding off houses, and unfortunately some houses were completely swept away.
For those of you who had damage that is repairable you may be looking for home repair services to start on the reconstruction or repair of your home. You may be looking for local handyman services who is able to do multiple home repairs, but you want to be sure you are hiring a reliable home handyman.
On the unfortunate side, when tragedies like this happens, you’ll have these pop-up businesses that claim to be professional home repair services. When you’re already distraught from the damage that has been done to your house, the last thing you want to encounter is a fraud pretending to be someone who is qualified to do repairs to your home, but in reality, they are only seeking to benefit from your loss.
The real question is how do you verify that the person you’re dealing with is a true, licensed insured and bonafide handyman business?
You ask questions.
If the handyman starts to get defensive or upset that you are asking questions, then your decision should be really easy, take your business to someone else.
One of the first questions that you want to ask is to see their business license, because if they truly have a business in the city or state that you’re in, they’ll have a business license. They will also have insurance; some type of bonded or liability insurance that they could show you proof of. If they’ve been a handyman for any length of time they should have people that you can talk to for testimonials on their work and customer service. A smart handyman would take pictures of the previous work that he has completed, like before and after pictures. He would have a website or an established business Facebook page already published, also most real contractors have their information printed on their company vehicles. A good example is the image below. This would be a good indication you are working with someone who is legit.
Questions to ask a handyman service:
- Do you have a business license with the city? Great, I’d like to see it.
- Are you insured? Great, I’d like to see it.
- Do you have a LLC or Corporation? Great, I’d like to see that paperwork. Or What is your EIN Number?
- Do you have a website?
- Do you have google reviews?
You can write down or take pictures of their information and check online.
An LLC, Corporation, etc. has an EIN number issued by the IRS. Then the business should be registered with the State. If the person is operating as a DBA (Doing Business As), there may not be an EIN number, only their SSN.
To verify state registration information: On the Secretary of State website (for your state) you should be able to do a search for their business name to see if they are indeed registered to do business in the state.
For the local city: Call the local business license department to verify the business license. Now be aware that in some cities, you have a city business license office and a county business license office. Some of these departments will have the license filed online and some will not.
A here today gone tomorrow, looking to make a quick buck type of handyman will not pay someone to build a website, taken the time to create a Facebook page or any other type of social media accounts, and will not have paid to be a part of any other type of legitimate organization. Ask if they’re a member of their local Chamber of Commerce, this membership also costs them to be a part of it, most will not spend any extra trying to look legitimate. All of these are indications if they are a true business. If the person you are dealing with doesn’t have any of these, I highly suggest you take your money and go somewhere else.
Ask even more questions.
The handyman contractor will be familiar with the local ordinances and building codes for the city and state they are in. Asking him questions related to that will also help you determine if he knows what he is talking about. However, these type questions you will want to be prepared for in advance. You will want to know the answer for these yourself. You can check with the local agencies for your city.
The states that were affected by the most recent storms are Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. The outer bands reached other states too, parts of Alabama and Tennessee.
A qualified experienced local handyman can provide such services as:
- Minor roof repair
- Siding replacement
- New flooring installation
- Deck repair
- Window repair and replacement
- Painting interior and exterior
One of the first things you want to do before considering any repairs, is to contact your insurance company. You will want to assess the damage your home has taken. If your home had flooding, after inspections by the insurance company, they may be able to assist you with some of the repairs. You would need to look at this on a case by case basis and it really depends on if you have insurance and what they require. There are a wide variety of circumstances, so make sure you go over your storm damage insurance. Look at the home insurance guide to get an idea of the different types of coverage.
Most important is to ask questions, you can also refer to even more information on hiring a contractor, so you are sure you get a qualified handyman contractor to help.
Remember Google is your friend, simply type in the name of the business and the city in a browser window such as Chrome, something like: Residential Improvement Doctor – local handyman services and you will see if the business has any listings in Google and if they do, then you can rest assured this is a true business.
We understand you do not have control over mother nature, but there are things, as a homeowner you can do to prepare for storms, so make sure you are doing all you can to help reduce the amount of damage to your home.