After the storm, comes the contractors - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

After the storm, comes the contractors


CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -- Many families in Cedar Falls are working to repair their homes and cars following last Tuesday's hail storm. There is no shortage of construction companies ready to fix your damaged roof or siding.

Many of the storm-repair companies are from out of town. When they arrive in Cedar Falls, they are required to apply for a solicitor's license. The City of Cedar Falls is advising families to ask to see this paperwork, as well as identification, before you even begin to discuss doing business with them.

Homeowner Orville Bultsma called a contractor he's worked with in the past to take a look at what the hail did to his roof. But just because he's doing an inspection does not mean the man has the job. In fact, another company already has, quite literally, marked his home as their territory.

"The contractor offered a $100 discount if we were willing to put a sign in our yard," Bultsma noted.

Workers from Aspen Exteriors are one of two solicitors who knocked on Bultsma's door last week. They offered him a free evaluation, and if he goes with their company, he'll receive a discount for allowing them to advertise on his lawn.

"My initial reaction was, they were somewhat predatory," said Bultsma.

That reaction is a common one. But Bultsma did a little checking, and learned the company has an office in Waterloo and a top rating from the Better Business Bureau. They also have a solicitor's license from the City of Cedar Falls.

"This is really the only way we have of keeping track so people aren't being taken advantage of," said City Attorney Susan Staudt.

Even Joe Jelinek, Aspen Exterior's owner, said there is always at least one "less than reputable" company that will descend on a town after a storm. He noted, most of the contractors who come from out of town are legitimate, and if they didn't come, local businesses would face an impossible task tackling all the repairs in a timely manner.

The City of Cedar Falls will verify the company is a real company, and that they have insurance. But that's all the solicitor's license guarantees. From there, they recommend you take a cue from Bultsma, and do your own research.

"It does not necessarily mean they do quality work. The City of Cedar Falls is not in the business of evaluating the quality of work when we issue these licenses," said Staudt.

Staudt also reminded homeowners to get a city-issued building permit before their contractor starts any work. If you have any questions about a contractor who approaches you for work, call the Cedar Falls Police Department or City Hall.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy


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