Properly vetting businesses to help with Irma damage

COLUMBUS, Ga. — It’s been two days since Irma left her mark on the valley and folks are still picking up the pieces.

Some of the most serious damage will be handled by professionals. Knowing who to hire can be difficult but not impossible if you take the right steps.

When storms like Irma come along, so do out of town contractors.

“The biggest thing is helping consumers find businesses that they can trust,” BBB Regional Director Tabitha Ingraham said.

Michael Ankerich lives on Overlook Street in Columbus. He was sitting in his house when strong winds ripped a large tree from the ground.

“I said, ‘That tree is falling, let’s go,’ and so we ran as fast as we could out of the screen porch and then there was a tremendous boom and the house shook.”

Elite Tree Service Inc. came out Wednesday to start cleaning up Ankerich’s house. They are a reputable company, contracted by Columbus when a tree on city property falls on private property.

Making your home safe again as quickly as possible is important but so is hiring the right business to get the job done.

‘Well you have to certainly do your homework,” Ankerich said. “You have to go online with friends and see what kind of ratings they have and make an educated guess that way.”

Tabitha Ingraham has several tips to make sure you’re hiring the right people to help in your time of need.

“What we encourage and urge consumers to do is ask BBB,” Ingraham said. “They can check out businesses on BBB.org or they can call us directly.”

The BBB also recommends you get three different bids, which allows you to find a business you want.

Ingraham also says it’s not always best to go with the lowest bid because there could be a reason it’s so low.

“They want to check with their local officials and find out what permits and licenses are required for their area,” she said.

Aside from checking with the BBB and local officials, you can also reach out to licensing agencies to verify the business.

You can ask the business for a permit, especially those coming door to door because most cities require a solicitation permit. If you get work done on your home without a permit, you could be the one stuck with fines and fees.

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