The Builders Association of Victoria understands the devastating effects a natural disaster can have on a community and wants to offer our support as you deal with the aftermath. A set of resources and links are available to help as our area communities recover after a natural disaster and begin to rebuild. These resources include government assistance links and downloadable information. These resources are also available online at www.nahb.org/disasterresources or at Texas Association of Builders. We would also like to remind you that as you hire contractors to do repairs to your home, please read the following PSA so that you may make the most decision possible during an already difficult circumstance.
Disaster Assistance Portal
The goal of the Disaster Assistance Improvement Program is to improve access to disaster information and make applying for disaster assistance easier. This is not just the beginning of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) grant process, but it is also the gatekeeper for assistance from the federal government. For business owners, that assistance will include SBA disaster loans which will be available. Individuals and businesses must register to secure resources. This is an important step of the recovery process that is not well understood.
FEMA, under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), acts as the managing partner. The site allows you to find disaster assistance that meets individual needs, learn more about the 70 forms of assistance from 17 federal agencies, apply and determine status for disaster assistance and reduce applications required, identify a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center, locate a hotel or temporary place to live, find food and nutrition programs, apply for change of address, and learn more about SBA loans for homeowners, renters, and businesses.
State & National Resources:
The following information may be helpful to anyone who suffered a loss as a result of natural disasters.
♦ Texas Department of Public Safety | (512) 424-2138
♦ Report Price Gouging to Texas Attorney General
♦ Red Cross Donation to Hurricane Harvey
♦ Salvation Army USA | 800-SAL-ARMY
If your insurance policy information has been lost, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) can help you locate your agent or insurance company. Call TDI’s Consumer Help Line at (800) 252-3439 for assistance.
To talk to a professional who can help you cope with emotional distress from the storm, call the Disaster Distress Line at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
Other Helpful Information:
Selecting a Qualified Contractor
Here are a few important guidelines to help you select a competent contractor:
GET MULTIPLE ESTIMATES
1. Rule of thumb, get a minimum of 3 estimates
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS of Your Contractor
1. How long have you been in the building business?
2. What type of insurance do you carry?
3. What’s the best was to communicate with you?
Question to Ask Yourself:
1. Do I see myself working and communicating with this contractor?
2. What is my gut telling me?
CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU
Your local Better Business Bureau will know about
1. Ask about complains filed against the contractor
2. Check BBB rating with standing within the community
ASK FOR REFERENCES (and then follow-up!)
1. Get a minimum of 3 references from past customers
2. Call each reference
3. Contact or visit your town code inspector. Some Texas cities require that builders are registered and bonded. Check with your city’s building permits department in this regard. These officials will also know how many projects they’ve inspected. They will also know how many projects they’ve inspected for the contractor and, possibly, the subs they’ve used for projects.
HAVE A CONTRACT
The contract should include these 4 things:
1. A description of how change orders are processed
3. Payment Schedule
DO NOT pay for the entire job up front or pay in cash. In fact, state law prohibits contractors in disaster areas from taking up front money unless they have held a physical business address in the county or adjacent county for at least one year. This law, found in Chapter 58 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code, provides other valuable protections for those rebuilding in disaster areas.
4. Completion date
THE BIG 3
The contract should include these 6 things:
1. Get References
2. Have a Contract
3. Do Not Pay upfront
Searching for Volunteer Opportunities
Looking to help homeowners devastated by Hurricane Harvey, click Samaritans Purse for volunteer opportunities surrounding the impacted areas. Samaritan’s Purse mobilizes staff and equipment and enlists thousands of volunteers to provide emergency aid to victims of tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and other natural disasters in the United States. They are looking for an army of volunteers—as many as 1,000 a day.