First off, anyone who has lived through these devastating types of storms is probably familiar with walk-up “contractors,” who go door-to-door in the aftermath of hurricanes, tornadoes and the like, offering their services — often at a discount, and often faster than the time frame you’d get by calling a legitimate contractor.
Some of these door-knockers will actually attempt a repair, though it will be likely be shoddy and done with substandard materials. More often, the person will just take your “deposit” and then never materialize.
So the first thing you should do when hiring a contractor is to check with your state’s Dept. of Consumer Affairs (or Bureau of Consumer Protection, or whatever variation on that them they choose to use) to see if A) the contractor is licensed by the state, and B) if there are any complaints filed against the contractor.
With that in mind, here is the relevant information for the states hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy in the last two days:
Division of Consumer Affairs
(973) 504 6200 or (800) 242 5846
Division of Consumer Protection
(800) 697 1220
(410) 576 6573 or (877) 259 4525
Consumer Fraud Hotline
(800) 220 5424
General Info: http://www.ct.gov/dcp/cwp/view.asp?a=1625&Q=274440&dcpNav=|
License Look-up: https://www.elicense.ct.gov/Lookup/LicenseLookup.aspx
The Newark Star-Ledger has some great, detailed advice on what documents you should be sure to get from the contractor fore you ever let them begin work. We highly suggest you check it out.