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Dishonest or unqualified contractors may try to take advantage of disaster victims. No matter how urgent your need for repairs, take the time to hire the right contractors to help you rebuild your home/business. Certified technicians can assess your home/business for possible structural, electrical, or natural gas-related safety issues before power is restored.

Learn all you can about restoration requirements and your contractor — especially if he or she comes to you looking for business.

  • 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 and responsibilities.
  • Federal, state, and local officials may be able to direct you to certified contractors, and have programs to help you schedule and pay for assessments and repairs.
  • Be sure the contractor you consider hiring is registered with the state before you sign a contract or make a down payment.
  • Check references. Has the contractor been the subject of consumer complaints? Do your homework to ensure that the contractor you consider hiring is qualified and honest.
  • Insist on seeing a copy of the contractor’s liability insurance policy, and contact the insurer to make sure the policy is valid.
  • Be wary of fly-by-night contractors. Unregistered and disreputable contractors often advertise through flyers posted in grocery stores of storm-affected areas or online listings.
  • Demand a written contract, and make sure you understand and agree to all of the terms and conditions.
  • Never pay the full price for repairs up-front. A general rule of thumb is to pay no more than one-third before, one-third halfway through, and one-third upon completion.

Disclaimer: Because every emergency is different and for your safety, follow the guidance from your state and local emergency management authorities and local utility companies. The information provided on the U.S. Department of Energy’s website is intended for general information and not an endorsement of any particular material or service. Before you engage in activities that could impact utility services, such as electricity or natural gas, contact your local utility company to ensure that your activities are done safely.

For additional resources, visit ready.gov or benefits.gov. State and local emergency management authorities and local utility companies may also provide helpful guidance.