by Chad calder
Advocate business writer
September 09, 2012
Isaac may not be Gustav, but there were still plenty of chain saws buzzing and hammers swinging Thursday as residents, roofers and tree cutting services began their post-storm ritual.
“We’re just now starting to deploy people out there, get tarps on roofs and assess the situation,” said Chris Yancey, of Coleman Roofing, on Thursday morning.
“I don’t think this storm damage was as severe (as Gustav), but the calls are coming in,” he said, noting Coleman got 50 calls in the first couple hours of the day Thursday.
“This is our three minutes of fame,” joked Eddie LeBlanc, of LeBlanc’s Tree & Stump Removal.
“We’re getting calls, but it’s nothing like (Gustav), where the phone is ringing off the walls,” he said.
Yancey said Coleman prioritizes its work based on need. The company, which has been in Baton Rouge for 30 years, got calls Thursday from people with minor leaks, but they were told they would have to wait while people with severe damage from falling trees and flying debris got their roofs tarped and repairs under way.
“We always start with the people with the most need,” he said.
Yancey added Coleman is seeing a lot of calls about leaks coming in around chimneys this time around.
“Most of the stuff I’ve seen that has come down is from lack of maintenance or wet root systems or a combination thereof,” LeBlanc, the arborist, said.
LeBlanc said that with an ailing economy, many people are holding off on general maintenance of their trees, and unpruned limbs and sick branches and roots can become a problem in a storm. But he pointed out maintenance is important because a falling tree may not just mean a damaged roof, but a destroyed house.
He said trees that regularly drop branches are showing signs of problems that could come to a head during a storm.
“What a tree does is what it’s likely to do,” he said. “There’s a reason they’re doing it.”
“If you think there’s reason for concern, there usually is. Call a competent arborist,” he said.
LeBlanc and Yancey urged people who need work done to follow a few simple rules: go with someone local, make sure they are properly accredited.
“Don’t trust anything from outside the area,” Yancey said. “If it doesn’t have a 225 area code, don’t go with it.”
He suggested checking the Better Business Bureau and the state’s Contractors Licensing Board. Yancey said Coleman crews always carry the company’s license and proof of insurance with them.
LeBlanc said ask for references, and get certificates of worker’s compensation coverage and proof of general liability.
“Baton Rouge has many competent arborists,” he said. “Find a competent Louisiana arborist to do your work.”
Indeed, the state Department of Insurance includes those and other recommendations for people who need major repairs after a storm.
- Most of the time, an insurance company does not recommend a contractor, so be wary of those who claim the insurance company sent them. Always ask to see something in writing.
- Do not give personal information such as your bank account numbers, Social Security number or other identification information to strangers.
- Get bids from at least three different sources. Do not do business with a contractor who cannot show proof of insurance. If possible, go one step further and ask that the contractor’s insurance carrier mail a certificate of insurance coverage directly to you. With all contractors, request the names and phone numbers of at least two references who have had similar work done by them in the last year. Follow through by calling each reference and discussing the contractor’s work in some detail.
- Only do business with a contractor who is bonded, which will offer you some protection if the job is not satisfactorily completed or supplies purchased to make your repairs are not paid for. Check the licensing of the contractor with the State Licensing Board for Contractors by calling (225) 765-2301, or visiting http://www.lslbc.louisiana.gov and clicking on “Find a Contractor.”
- Call the Better Business Bureau to learn if there have been any complaints filed against the contractor.
- Be wary of contractors who demand payment in full before work is completed. If the contractor needs payment to buy supplies, accompany the contractor and pay the supplier directly. It is also a good idea to record the contractor’s license plate number and driver’s license number.
- Before any work is started, request a clearly worded, itemized contract. Review it with the contractor and make sure you understand and agree with its content before the contract is signed. The contract should include a separate breakout of labor and cost of materials; the contractor’s responsibility to get all required permits; beginning and completion dates; proof of insurance coverage from the job’s start date until completion; and a statement guaranteeing that the work area will be left in its original condition when the job is done.