Contractor checklist: What you need to know to protect your pock -

Contractor checklist: What you need to know to protect your pocketbook

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ST. LOUIS ( -- Having your home destroyed by a natural disaster like a flood is stressful enough, but hiring the wrong contractor to make repairs can make a bad situation even worse.

Historic flooding in the region will attract some questionable contractors looking to make a quick buck. Knowing what to watch for and how to handle contractors will go a long way in protecting your cash.

Stolen deposits

It happens over and over again: people in need put money down only to have the contractor disappear with the cash. Plenty of contractors will do work without money down. If your contractor won't agree to those terms and you're not comfortable, find a different contractor.

Ask for a lien waiver

Even if you pay your insurance regularly and your insurance company pays your contractor for the work, if the contractor fails to pay their subcontractors you could be on the hook. Even though it isn’t your fault, it can be your problem. General contractors that fail to pay their subcontractors will result in a lien placed on your house. Always ask for signed lien waivers.

Know where to find them

Be careful when the contractor giving bids has out of state plates, as tracking them down could be tough. Even if they have in-state plates, always ask where their office is located and stop in to check it out. Oftentimes shady contractors list an address with a suite number, that suite is many times a PO box. A PO Box doesn't always mean it's a bad company, but it makes it much harder to find the contractor. If you're handing over money, ask for a current copy of their driver’s license. At the very least you will have a picture of the contractor and valuable information just in case you need to file a police report later.

Do your research

Missouri CaseNet is a great resource. If you type in the contractors name, it will reveal any current or past lawsuits, including dollar amounts owed to homeowners.

Thoroughly check their references, and try to find any word-of-mouth recommendations if they claim to have done work in the area.

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