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Storm Chasers

Storm Chasers

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State and local agencies are cautioning those who experienced home damage from a recent tornado to check credentials and insurance of potential contractors.

Doreen Riedman, executive officer of the North Dakota Association of Builders said often, out-of-state contractors watch for storm-affected areas around the country and then go there to find work.

Riedman dubs these "storm chasers." "They tend to go to areas that are heavily damaged and these contractors try to do work on the cheap and then they're out of town," Riedman said.

"We really just want to warn homeowners because we see this happen every time there is a hail storm or flooding." "Fly-by nights," as Riedman calls them, come in and do the necessary repairs, but sometimes when follow-up work is needed or the work is not done properly, the contractors cannot be found or won't do the work.

"They hook up a local cell phone for a short time, and look like they're a local guy," Riedman said.

"You need to ask for references and check those references.

They are come and go, and they're already on to the next storm."The agency has no statistics as to how many times such situations have occurred to state residents, she said.

Riedman said the main goal is to make people aware of those contractors that may not be reliable.

"We just want to make sure homeowners look at all the ins and outs of these things," Riedman said.

"Especially like elderly folks, I just don't want to see anyone taken advantage of in this whole deal.

I know there are a lot of things homeowners probably don't think about when they're up to their eyeballs and they can see the sky through their roof." Kyle Kuntz, president of the Dickinson Area Builders Association, said his main concerns revolve around warranties and liability insurance.

"If they're (contractors) working on their homes and roofs and are not insured, and there is damage to the home or to other people, it falls back to the homeowner's responsibility," Kuntz said.

"Another thing to think about is there a warranty behind it? If someone does the work that you're not familiar with, are they done or is there a warranty behind it?"Remember, there's good contractors coming in, as well, and they're not all bad, just be aware." Consumers can check to see if contractors are licensed in the state by visiting the Secretary of State's Web site at
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