The spring was harsh with several storms inflicting serious damages. Especially devastating was a storm on May 26 which pelted many areas with large hail and heavy winds. The storms damaged roofs, siding, cars, windows, and garages.

Since then, some people in the affected areas have been visited by individuals from out of the area who say they want to repair these damages.

While these firms might be legitimate, be cautious. Make sure you don't hire a scam artist or a firm which won't properly restore your property.

Sometimes it's more difficult to repair shoddy work than it is to repair the initial damage. And, too often, we hear money is given to firms and the individuals get no services in return.

Many municipalities have licensing requirements for firms doing local work. Is the firm that's asking to do your work licensed with your borough? Be sure to ask the sales people this question, then check with your municipality.

There have been reports of firms imposing high fees just for giving estimates. Make sure you know what you are signing and whether or not you will be charged to have someone look for damages. Usually you don't pay for having an appraisal or an estimate.

Preferably, if you have insurance, have your insurance company do an assessment of damages.

If you don't have insurance or want another opinion, hire someone locally with whom you are familiar. Ask neighbors for recommendations.

One question we have is whether municipalities which have ordinances requiring licenses to do construction work are enforcing such policies.

Contact your borough and find out about firms you're considering hiring before allowing work to be done or before allowing representatives of the firm to even examine your property.

Don't get scammed. Use common sense. Don't fall for the sales pitch of a smooth talker.

Protect yourself. Protect your property. Contact your insurance company and work only with reputable firms - firms that don't just claim to be reputable, but are known by friends, neighbors, and relatives to be so.

One last thing: Make sure whoever is doing your work is properly insured.

RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com