The Rockland County Office of Consumer Protection offered consumer tips as residents look to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.
·Licenses are required in Rockland County for persons performing home improvements, plumbing, heating, air-conditioning and electrical work. Both general contractors and their subcontractors are required to be licensed. These licenses are issued through the Office of Consumer Protection.
·Check with the Office of Consumer Protection at (845) 708-7600 to see if the contractors are licensed and/or have any complaints before you start. You can also check our website at http://rocklandgov.com/ and click on licensed businesses on our department page. Make sure the type of work you want done is the type of work the contractor is licensed to do.
·If your homeowner’s insurance company makes a referral, ask if they are referring a contractor who is licensed and insured in Rockland County and verify with the Office of Consumer Protection.
·Use extreme caution with itinerant individuals and companies who solicit your business regarding storm repairs and always check to see if they are licensed in Rockland County.
·Make sure you get the license number, business name, business address, business phone and business owner’s full name of anyone you hire.
This information is helpful to locate them if there is a problem later on.
·Make a thorough list or plan of the work you want done.
·Photograph the condition of your premises prior to beginning any repair work.
·Get at least three (3) written estimates…each based on the same building specifications and materials. If three contractors are unavailable for estimate, make sure you get at least two to compare costs.
·Get references from contractors and inspect jobs they have previously completed.
·Get a written, detailed contract. Any changes to the contract should be in writing and signed.
·Limit your deposit (other than payment for materials) to 15% of total or $1,000. whichever is less.
·Contract should include specific start and completion dates. At no time should payments exceed the cost of time and materials on work completed. Make sure contracts contain at least a one-year warranty on workmanship.
·Make sure your contractor gets all necessary building permits - unless otherwise stated in the contract.
·Protect yourself from all liens, in the event your contractor fails to pay the subcontractors or materials’ suppliers by adding a release of lien clause to the contract or by paying subcontractors and suppliers directly.
·Thoroughly inspect work before making final payment or signing completion.
·Consider using a credit card when making any payments. Credit card protections will apply. Whatever method of payment you use, always get a written receipt acknowledging payment.
·Higher prices do not necessarily mean price gouging. NYS Law defines when price gouging has occurred. Contact Rockland County Office of Consumer Protection at 845-708-7600 or NYS Attorney General’s Office at 914-422-8755 if you suspect price gouging in your area.
·If you suspect a problem with contaminated gasoline (i.e. water), contact Rockland County Office of Consumer Protection at 845-708-7600.