Our hearts go out to those who have lost their homes, treasures and in some cases their loved ones from the central and western Mass tornadoes.
Now the reconstruction will start in Springfield, Monson, Brimfield, Sturbridge and some of the surrounding towns. Homeowners will be calling contractors to help them get their lives back.
Fly by night contractors from out of state looking for work
There will be a lot of work for contractors and trades. Homeowners need to be very careful who they hire. Some contractors will come from out of state promising the world. Most of the contractors who come from out of state will be illegal to work in Mass. Homeowners may unknowingly hire some.
Public or Private adjusters
In addition to contractors homeowners will be inundated with visits from ambulance chasing Public adjusters. Be careful signing on with a PA because you will forgo 7 to 10 % of the claim amount to them. Your PA must give you a contract and a three right of cancellation in case you change your mind. A PA is not for everyone. Often times a professional contractor can work with you to negotiate the claim with the insurance company. The contractor may ask you for a small stipend to help you as the scope of work is determined and finalized. Contractors know how much things cost where the PA's and company insurance adjusters must use software programs that leave out many items that homeowners are entitled to. One example will be code upgrades mandated by the recent 8th edition of the building code. The PA and insurance company may have no clue and the building inspector will require code upgrades that may not be covered in the original claim. Another is RRP Lead Licensing.
The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation told me today that they are hearing from many consumers about contractors coming from out of state. Many of these contractors are not licensed to work in Mass and are here to take advantage of the tornado victims who only want to get back to normal life. Any contractor who works in Mass must be registered as a home improvment contractor. Here is the link to check out your contractor. MHI Contractor Registration List
Homeowners check out your contractor and do not give them any money or sign the state compliant contract if they do not have the following credentials;
1. They are registered with the State of Massachusetts and have a HIC#.
2. They have General Liability Insurance. (call the agent to verify coverage, illegal contractors falsify the binder or do not work with insurance. If their is a claim you may be exposed.
3. They have workers compensation insurance. Workers who get hurt working on your property w/o coverage can sue you for damages. Make sure the general has coverage and request to see coverage for sub contractors.
4. Permit; under no circumstances should the homeowner pull the permit. Homeowners who pull the permit are responsible for code compliance. Run from any contractor who suggests that the homeowner pulls the permit.
5. Mass RRP License; If your home was built before 1978 your contractor must have a Lead Safe Renovation Contractor License. If they do not they must obtain one before they can offer to work or contract to work on your home. Here is the link to the state website to verify that your contractor is allowed to work on pre 1978 homes. Mass Lead Safe Renovation License List. This law is enforced by the Department of Labor Standards who have their own enforcement force. They will go out and visit jobs that are being done in an unsafe manor. Some projects have recently been delayed until the contractor can prove they are licensed to work on pre 1978 property. Certified contractors who see work going on by uncertified contractors are calling the state to report them.
6. OSHA Compliant; make sure your contractor is compliant with OSHA fall protection standards. The storm damage from the tornadoes decimated many roofs. Residential contractors must use fall protection measures to meet with the OSHA guidelines. These include harnesses, fall arrest systems, staging with nets, and guard rails. OSHA is visiting residential job sites and will look for contractors who do not comply with the OSHA fall protection directive which takes effect on June 16th 2011. Homeowners who get caught in the crossfire may see their job delayed.
7. Your contractor must give you a three day right of cancellation form when you sign the contract. If he does not have one then run.
8. Contractors are only allowed per state law to ask for one third down except for special order materials. If they ask for more run.
9. Make sure they use licensed sub contractors approved to do business in Mass.
10. If they ask to do the job for cash, or need your cash to by materials, run. Watch out for the laid off contractor and the off duty municipal worker who works for cash without a contract saying you can trust me I am a local town employee.
11. Your contractor must have a contract that meets the requirement of the Mass Home Improvement Law.
Responsible contractors will likely have all of the bases above covered if they apply to their trade.
If you need a referral for a good contractor who is licensed and certified you can contact us and we will try to help you out.
Here is a link for professional contractors who are members of the Eastern Massachusetts National Association of the Remodeling Industry. These contractors must agree to follow a code of ethics to be a member.
If you choose a contractor be sure to check him or her out. If the deal sounds to good to be true it most likely is. Most people can only afford to get this right the first time.
mark the coach
"one voice for the residential construction industry"
coaching for contractors and homeowners