2014 Monsoon causes spike in contractor complaints

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

The months following last summer's active monsoon storms saw spikes in complaints against licensed and unlicensed contractors.

In October, the Arizona Registrar of Contractors received 349 complaints against licensed contractors. The average monthly total is 272.

The summer of 2014 brought several large and damaging storms to the Valley, including microbursts, dust storms and heavy rainfall.

During one day in September, the Phoenix area received more rainfall than it does in an average three-month period.

As a result, hundreds of homes suffered flood and wind damage, wreaking havoc on roofs, floors, walls and windows.

"I could hear the windows start rattling," said Lyman Smith, whose Chandler home took a direct hit from a microburst in July.

"It was around 70, 75 mph winds," Smith said. His home suffered roof damage, broken windows and water damage to the interior.

After filing an insurance claim, Smith hired licensed contractors to repair his roof and windows. To finish the job, he hired a painter from Tucson. Smith said he agreed to paint part of the exterior of the home, some of the interior and fix a bathroom.

"He ran with $2,000. Completed not one job," Smith said.

The director of the Registrar of Contractors said he sees an increase in complaints after big weather events.

"There's generally a spike in licensed and unlicensed complaints," Director Jeff Fleetham said. He said many of the problems could have been avoided with some due diligence on the part of property owners.

The ROC recommends taking the following steps before hiring a contractor:

  • Review the contractor's license here
  • Ask for written estimates from at least three contractors
  • Request a list of references and check them
  • Never pay cash and make your check out to the name on the contractor license
  • Avoid contractors who demand large up-front payments
  • Never make a hurried decision

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