Washington Dept. of Labor Offers Tips on Hiring Contractors for Storm Cleanup

Beware of contractors who ask to be paid in cash, to have a check made out to someone other than the business, who will work just weekends, or who use high-pressure sales tactics.

Winter storms can wreak havoc on trees and power lines, leaving homeowners with the task of cleaning up and repairing the damage.

Whether you’re hiring a tree removal service to clean up a downed tree or a general contractor to repair damage to your roof and gutter, the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) reminds consumers that a little homework up front can protect you against fraud, shoddy work, or simply bad contractors.

In most cases, those hiring a contractor should plan their project and interview several contractors before settling on one. But when time is short, and you have a yard full of limbs or a damaged home, some basic steps can help protect you:

  • Whether you’re hiring a tree trimmer or general contractor, use the Internet to look up the contractor you are considering hiring and verify that the company is a registered business. You can also check on the amount of insurance coverage the contractor has and how large a bond they carry.
  • Beware of contractors who ask to be paid in cash, to have a check made out to someone other than the business, who will work just weekends, or who use high-pressure sales tactics. These are red flags and could be signs of a scam or an unregistered contractor.
  • Avoid paying a large deposit to a contractor or the entire cost of the job up front, and be sure the contractor provides written documentation for any project that is more than $1,000.
  • If subcontractors are used or costly materials from suppliers, get lien releases from them. Before making final payment on the job, make sure subcontractors aren’t owed any money. Unpaid subcontractors can hold you responsible for their work by putting liens on your home.

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