Homeowners urged to use care when hiring contractors to repair hurricane damage

VIDEO: Homeowners urged to use care when hiring contractors to repair hurricane damage

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - If you’re left with damage from Hurricane Dorian, there is information you need to know about making repairs.

Most cities and counties require permits before you can make any repairs to your home.

The City of Charleston says obtaining a permit can help prevent you from getting scammed.

The South Carolina Department of Labor, Licencing and Regulation wants property owners to be on the lookout for scammers. They say they understand that people are anxious to get work done quickly but you need be careful when hiring people. The department says the biggest issue they see are homeowners paying too much in advance for services and hiring unlicensed contractors.

To protect yourself, they offer these tips:

  • Make sure you have photos of damage before repairs
  • Try to get recommendations from people you know
  • Don’t rely on verbal promises you should have a signed copy of a contract
  • Hire only state licensed, registered and insured contractors

You’ll also want to make sure you’re reaching out to your city or county building department to find out if you’re required to have permits to perform certain repairs.

Charleston Flood Plain Manager Stephen Julka says permits protect property owners.

“The most important reason to get building permits for any repairs that you do is to so that we can make sure that you are using a licensed contractor and that work is being done correctly,” Julka says. “That work is going to be inspected and it’s going to be done in compliance with all building codes.”

Julka says a team of 30 to 35 people are in the process of visiting 30,000 homes that are located in a flood plain in Charleston. They are working to access the damage from the hurricane in the area and document what they find.

“We also have reports coming in still even after the storm of properties that have experienced damage whether it’s from a tree falling on a house or wind damage of siding or roofing being peeled off a building," Julka says. "We’re also going to those properties first as well, the ones that we have reports for.”

Just about every county and city requires building permits and the cost of the permit can vary on type of repair being made.

Berkeley County says they do not charge a fee for permits to make emergency repairs. The City of Hanahan says they have waived their fees storm-related repairs.

If you’d like to see if a person or business has a license you can check on South Carolina’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation web page under “Licensee Lookup” here.

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