What is the value of using local workers for repairs after the hurricane?
Hurricane Ian struck a historic blow to Southwest Florida with its landfall on September 28, 2022. As we try and recover it is of upmost importance to avoid a second disaster by working with the wrong people restoring your home.
Unfortunately, hurricane relief areas have a history of attracting people and businesses with not such good intentions who take advantage of people in need. While we are desperately trying to repair our homes and get back to our new normal, remember, there is a critical vetting process to make sure you work with the right people.
Only work with licensed and insured companies
The first thing you need to do is to make sure you’re working with a contractor that is licensed and insured.
According to Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR for short) these a some of the red flags to look out for:
- Contractor asks or attempts to perform unsolicited work.
- Says they can offer a deal or perform the work at a discounted rate because they have a surplus of materials from another job.
- Says that a permit and inspections are not required.
- Has a name listed on business cards, contracts, promotional material or vehicles that is different from the name listed on the DBPR license.
- Has address or phone numbers that are not locally based.
- Uses high pressure tactics.
- Asks for large, up front deposits.
- Presents a tax receipt (a/k/a occupational license) as their contractor’s license.
- Will not provide a certificate of insurance for general liability and worker’s compensation coverage.
- Does not provide a written contract with terms you understand.
- Only wants to work on weekends or after hours.
Not all work requires a contractors license. Smaller projects, like window fashions, that do not require electrical or plumbing work fall into that category. That does not mean the buyer should not be on alert when dealing with these contractors as well. According to DBPR here is a list of projects that do not need to be licensed to perform. Read the list here
Some benefits of working with local companies
It is not just a license that matters. The value of local expertise cannot be understated. When disaster strikes you need someone who knows, ideally that person is also invested in our community.
- Longterm service and warranties
Working with a local company allows you to reach out directly to the business for any future services or warranty work. A locals intention should not be to make some quick money and then disappear, leaving you hanging. Rather a local should be concerned about rebuilding their own community while maintaining their good reputation.
- Established Reputation
Working with a company that has been around a long time will increase the chance of them being here if you ever need them in the future. If a company has been around for over 20 years like we have, we won’t let any single project sully our name.
- Community Return
The local economy will improve when the dollars spent here on repairs are reinvested in the area. Specifically some of those benefits are: a higher local employment rate, a better standard of living for those helping us and boosting the local income tax base. No one likes to pay taxes, but in times like these the more money the government has the better it is equipped to repair roads, redevelop schools and restore public services. Everybody wins.
- Local rules and regulations
Even when a company has good intentions, the ignorance of the local rules and regulations can make the work harder than it has to be. It can be lack of knowledge about a rule or not knowing things that are unique to Florida. A simple example can be not knowing who to speak to or not having a network of other contractors that can be used as resources. This can be dangerous to the timely completion of a project. Southwest Florida also has very unique regulations to our nature and ecology. It’s not always ok to just cut a tree down. A local will know better than a visiting contractor.
A marketplace of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term. Smaller businesses are more likely to pay their employees a fair wage. They tend to be more hands on and detail oriented. It is not a promise that you will get a better project when you hire a licensed local, but your chances are better when you do.