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The Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga (HBAGC) is offering tips to help those impacted by the Sunday storms avoid costly mistakes when hiring a contractor to perform repairs.

"These storms were devastating to hundreds of homeowners in our community," HBAGC Executive Officer Doug Fisher said in a news release. "Understandably, people want to fix the damage as quickly as possible, but it's important to do some research first and avoid rushing into a decision."

Preparation is the key to finding the best contractor to get the job done. The Home Builders Association advises the following:

* Choose a contractor that is based in the area and has a verifiable local phone number and permanent address. Be wary of contractors with no ties to the area or ones that solicit door-to-door and offer steep discounts.

* Get local references and ask friends or family for referrals of professionals who have successfully completed similar home repairs or construction projects.

* Verify licensure of the contractor by visiting sos.ga.gov in Georgia or verify.tn.gov in Tennessee. Make sure the company or individual carries both a business and contractor's license.

* Ask for documented proof - and then verify by phone or in person - that the contractor is insured and bonded.

* Compare itemized quotes from three or more contractors, making sure all estimates are for the same work, specifications and warranties.

* Do not sign any paperwork until you are certain and have fully researched the company, and do not endorse insurance checks directly to the contractor. Get in writing exactly how you will make payments for the work performed.

* Don't try to do it alone. For a list of local professional contractors who are currently doing post-storm repairs in the area, visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga at www.HBAGC.net.

A list of professional contractors working disaster relief can be found at https://hbagc.net/pages/tornado-relief

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