BBB provides advice for hiring contractors

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COLUMBIA - April showers may bring hail, wind or flood damage.

With the recent possibilities for severe weather in mid-Missouri, homeowners could find themselves needing to hire contractors to fix damage.

The Better Business Bureau, or BBB, offers the following tips to help consumers find credible contractors:

1. Ask at least three companies for bids based on the same requirements. Discuss the bids in detail with each contractor and ask them about variations in pricing. The lowest-priced bid may not be the best.

2. Ask about the company's insurance. Does it carry worker's compensation, property damage and liability insurance? Ask for proof of insurance or for the name of an insurance agent you can call to verify the coverage.

3. Ask whether the contractor is licensed for the type of work you need. Does the firm meet the bonding requirements of your town, county or state?

4. Check with local authorities to find out whether permits are needed. The contractor should be aware of any permits or inspections that may be required.

5. When the job is completed, ask the contractor to provide a lien waiver, a statement that all suppliers and contractors have been paid.

6. Ask for a contract and read it. Get any verbal promises in writing. Make sure the contract includes the start date and expected completion date.

7. Don't pay the entire amount due until the work is completed and you are satisfied. Be careful if a contractor wants to be paid in full up front. In some cases a contractor may need a down payment to cover materials, but the bulk of the money should not be due until the work is complete.

The BBB suggests consumers check a company's BBB Business Review before hiring.