This past weekend the North Eastern United States got pounded with some huge rain totals. Some areas like New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island saw, in some areas, 100 year flood conditions. East Shore areas of Maryland also quite drastic flooding in places.
In a panic, it’s easy to flip through the Yellow Pages, find the first 5 listings and call them to get someone out to your home in a hurry to have someone out this second to get things right in your home. However, this is how many customers get into trouble. With quick, unrehearsed choices in companies it’s easy to get wrapped up into a deal with someone you don’t trust, and with a horrible end product that doesn’t last as long as it should.
There are a few key places that anyone with Internet access can use in order to do some quick research on if a company delivers what they promise and if their customers think the same.
The first place that I normally suggest to everyone is the Better Business Bureau or www.bbb.org. Not only can you search by state, you can get information on how long they’ve been in business, who’s in charge, and how many customer issues they’ve had over the past 36 months. What’s better is that you can get a quick sense of how they handle things in tough situations. Do they just blow people off? Or do they take the time to really try to work something out, even if it may not be what the customer really wants (otherwise known in marriage as a compromise). **Keep in mind, the longer the business has been in business the longer it has to gather customers and help make them unhappy or keep them happy. Businesses that have been around for 10-20+ are normally there because their customer base is happy and they have a solid reputation locally.
Another place that I tell everyone to search is his or her local state department. Run the name of the company through the paces; make sure they have a license to back up the work in the state that you’re in. The worst mistake you can do is use a contractor or company to waterproof you basement that isn’t monitored by the state…then you’re really not protected.
Thirdly, if you’re a member, use Angie’s List www.angieslist.com. Members get access to reviews and ratings put together by other users. Yeah, it’s a feature that you might find on Yelp.com or ServiceMagic.com by since these members PAY to use the site to do research, you KNOW these people are serious and will leave honest reviews of the company, their experience and what they got out of the deal. Even though the reviews might be real or serious, Google Maps shouldn't be a place that you weigh a company. Unknown to many people Google Maps isn't monitored except for it's Users. This makes it an easy place for companies to pay or have staff bad mouth each other openly in hopes of skewing your choice.
Next is the company’s web site. Do they have one? What does this company sound like? Do they have places on the site to help you there deal with the issue, forums, and live support? Things like these can really come in handy if you’re stuck at work trying to deal with a problem that you really only have time for a quick IM chat for.
After that, make some calls to friends. Have they heard of these companies, good or bad things, have they done any work for your family, co-workers, and doctors? Getting feedback from people who are close to you is normally a solid judge of character.
The last suggestion is check the National Association of Waterproofing and Structural Repair Contractors (www.nawsrc.org) You can see who’s certified in your state and really pinpoint who you might want to start your conversation with when talking about fixing your foundation or your basement water issues.
Basement waterproofing, even if you’re a few feet in water already, is something you want to go through once and make sure it’s done by professionals with the products and credentials to provide support to you in the future.
With all this rain, all the water, and all the flooding, it’s easy to make a flash judgment and get in over your head (flooding puns not-intended).
Related Reading and Links
Read about the Top 6 Basement Mistakes that contractors and homeowners make.
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