The devastating floods that affected an estimated 42 percent of the homes in metro Baton Rouge is triggering a response from out-of-state contractors, looking to help with the recovery effort. It's important that property owners make sure contractors are licensed and avoid scams.
About 120 out-of-state contractors have contacted the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors so far about getting licensed to work in the state, said Judy Dupuy, an administrator with the agency. About 28 percent of the more than 24,500 licensed contractors in Louisiana are from outside the state.
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“I’m seeing cars and license plates from all over the place,” said Carol Smith, president of the Capital Region Builders Association. Much of the work going on right now involves ripping out carpets, flooring and drywall that were soaked with floodwater. Licensed contractors aren’t needed for demolition projects.
“We’ve gotten a ton of calls,” said Michael McDuff, executive director of the contracting board. The board is moving as quickly as it can to get out-of-state contractors licensed to work in Louisiana. The board can plow through approval process in a week, provided applicants have all of their paperwork in order.
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For someone hiring a contractor to do flood repair, the important thing is to check the licensing board website to make sure that someone can do that work in Louisiana. You can search online at lacontractor.org or through the licensing board’s free mobile app, available in the Apple and Google Play stores. You can also call the licensing board toll-free at (800) 256-1392.
“There are some scammers out there and some storm chasers,” McDuff said. “The most obvious signs are people making door-to-door solicitations in a neighborhood, making promises to do work cheaper and more efficiently than other contractors and wanting cash upfront. Those are big warning signals.”
The licensing board recommends getting at least three bids for a repair job. The contractor should show proof of general liability and worker’s compensation insurance.
After you choose a contractor, make sure that you have a written contract that details the estimated start and completion dates for the work, a description of what will be done and the agreed to cost of the work.
Homeowners are encouraged to never provide a down payment that’s more than 10 percent of the cost of the work. You should never pay for work that hasn’t been completed.
In flood-ravaged Central, Mayor Jr. Shelton wonders whether his constituents will come back.