State residents are more than familiar with damages caused by tornadoes, but more and more people across the state are now dealing with flood damage. Considering the drought over the past several years, many residents were not prepared for what seems to be this unending rain.

Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist, said one key to picking up the pieces is to find the right rebuilding contractor.

Unfortunately, when disaster strikes, some fly-by-night companies spring up in affected areas and do little more than take advantage of consumers when they are in the most need of help.

“Oklahomans who have suffered damage are feeling a sense of urgency and need help right away,” Peek said. “Although you want to have the work done as quickly as possible, take the time to seek out a contractor with a proven track record. Ask for references and check them out. Check with the Better Business Bureau about any potential contractors before signing a contract.”

Something else to check into is the contractor’s insurance. Make sure the contractor carries general liability insurance and workers’ compensation. This will protect the homeowner from liability should an accident occur on the property.

Peek also recommended getting a written estimate from several different contractors. This helps the homeowner compare services and prices before making a final decision. Keep in mind, however, some contractors charge a fee for a written estimate. 

“Once you decide on a contractor, get a written contract. The contract should spell out all aspects of the work, including what work is to be completed, who is paying for materials and who is responsible for applying for necessary permits or licenses,” she said. “It’s a good idea to have an attorney review the contract, especially if substantial costs are involved. Homeowners also should keep a copy of the contract for their own records. Do not sign a blank contract or one with blank spaces.”

Be wary of companies offering discounts if you pay up front in cash. The best way to protect yourself is to write a check to the contracting company. Never pay the full amount up front. A reasonable down payment is around 30 percent of the cost of the total project, which is usually paid at the time of delivery of materials. The final payment should be made only after the work is completed to your satisfaction. 

If a homeowner finds it necessary to cancel a contract, do so in the proper manner. A cancellation should take place within three days of signing the contract. Be sure to follow the cancellation procedures outlined in the contract. The cancellation notification should be sent by registered mail with a return receipt to be signed by the contractor.

“Do your homework and check into any company you’re considering doing repairs on your home,” Peek said. “Although your main objective is to get back into your home as quickly as possible, make sure you are dealing with a reputable company.”


Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures.  This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; phone 405-744-5371; email: [email protected] has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies: Director of Equal Opportunity. Any person (student, faculty, or staff) who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

Trisha Gedon
Communications Specialist|
Agricultural Communications Services
136 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)
[email protected]

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