Senator Fuschillo Warns Residents To Use Caution When Hiring A Contractor

Charles J. Fuschillo Jr.

November 04, 2005

In light of the numerous instances of heavy rains recently and the damage that these storms have caused, Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District), Chairman of the Senate’s Consumer Protection Committee, is warning all residents to take precautions before hiring a contractor to do work on their home.

"With many homeowners forced to deal with flooding and water damage, there will be an overwhelming need for contractors’ services. This need also presents an opportunity for unscrupulous and illegal businesses to scam honest people during their time of need and it is important that homeowners protect themselves from being cheated," stated Senator Fuschillo. "There are a number of protections available for homeowners in need of a contractor, and I urge all residents to take advantage of these services to ensure that the job will be done properly."

Homeowners who are considering hiring a contractor should follow the tips listed below:

- Talk to your friends and neighbors about contractors they have used for similar projects. Ask the contractor for any references their company may have received in the past from any of your neighbors.

-Check the reliability and history of any potential contractor. According to Teresa A. Santiago, Chairperson and Executive Director of the New York State Consumer Protection Board, a homeowner can research a contractor by calling the Consumer Protection Board at 1-800-697-1220. "Homeowners can avoid costly problems when they take their time and do their homework before hiring a contractor. To find out if a contractor has any complaints filed against them with the state Consumer Protection Board, please call our toll free number."

- Get estimates from several different contractors. These detailed estimates should include specifications about terms and conditions of the contract, quality of materials, warranties for labor and materials, an approximate timetable of when the project will begin and end, and a payment schedule.

- Avoid a firm that wants a large down payment. The Nassau County Office of Consumer Affairs states that a fair down payment would be under 15%. Make payments as each phase of the work is completed. Hold back final payment until all problems have been corrected.

- Hire only licensed contractors. The consumer affairs offices of both Nassau and Suffolk Counties have numbers available for you to call to check to see if a prospective contractor is adequately licensed in the county. The Suffolk County Office of Consumer Affairs can be reached at 631-853-4600 and the Nassau County Office of Consumer Affairs can be contacted at 516-571-2600.
"Nassau County residents should call the Office of Consumer Affairs before they sign on the dotted line so they can find out whether a contractor is licensed by the office and that they carry the proper insurance," stated Roger C. Bogsted, Commissioner of the Nassau County Office of Consumer Affairs.

While a consumer can do thorough research, there will still be experiences where a disagreement arises. If that happens to you, you should contact your local consumers affairs office or the New York State Consumer Protection Board at 1-800-697-1220 for assistance. If more convenient, please CLICK HEREfor additional information and important contacts.