The historic storm that has battered Houston, TX left about 52 inches of rain behind it (as of August 29, 2017), and this record rainfall flooded city streets to an unprecedented level. Once the waters recede, Greater Houston residents will have to contend with billions of dollars in damages.* The rebuilding process will be long and painful. When Houston area residents are planning the necessary repairs to their homes, it will be helpful to protect themselves financially as well as have resources to help them choose trustworthy, reliable contractors.
The Greater Houston Builders’ Association maintains a database of 650 builders and contractors in the Houston area.
There are a number of things that homeowners and those affected by Hurricane Harvey should be aware of when they are looking for a contractor to rebuild or repair their home:
- Beware of “sales tactics” such as unusually low prices or a contractor trying to get you to agree to services “today” or as soon as possible. If prices seem too good to be true, they probably are.
- Don’t pay up front in full for the repair work. Unscrupulous builders may take your money and then not show up again, or take a very long time to complete the work.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau, the Greater Houston Builders’ Association, Yelp, Google Reviews, and other online resources to ensure your selected builder or contractor has a good relationship in the community.
- Cover your bases. Insist on a clearly written contract, and read it before you sign. Check to see if your chosen builder is registered and bonded (this is legally required in some municipalities). Ask if the contractor has references for work they have done in the past.
- Ask how long they have been in business, and verify that they have a permanent business address.
For more resources on rebuilding after the storm (and protecting your wallet while doing so, as well as general post-disaster resources) check out the Greater Houston Building Association’s website, the Texas Builders’ site, DisasterAssistance.gov, and the National Association of Home Builders’ disaster recovery page.
Some storms (such as 2016’s Hurricane Matthew) featured high winds causing home damage and knocking over trees, and this was the most prominent type of damage found in coastal South Carolina and other areas affected by the storm. With Hurricane Harvey, meanwhile, flooding will likely be the principal type of damage the storm caused. There are different home repair considerations with flooding than with damage caused by high winds, and consumers should keep some of these differences in mind. Severely waterlogged carpets and flooring will be an issue, and consumers should be sure to check the integrity of the electric systems as well as walls and supports.
*The Greater Houston Partnership and Moody’s Analytics predicted $50 billion in property damage and economic activity losses, while Accuweather estimated as much as $190 billion. For an explainer of the difficulty of estimating the exact damage of a storm, click here.