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Homebuilders Group Shares Tips On Post-storm Repairs

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Sep 6, 2019
Now that the skies have cleared from Hurricane Dorian’s pass through the Wilmington area, many across the region are determining what repairs might be needed.

Although damages were not as extensive as Hurricane Florence nearly a year ago, the region did have some tornadoes, heavy winds and flooding from Hurricane Dorian, leading some residents and businesses into recovery mode Friday.

With potential pending insurance claims and repairs, officials with the Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association are urging members and the general public to know their rights, said Cameron Moore, the association’s executive officer.

The N.C. Licensing Board for General Contractors (NCLBGC) began warnings early this week about the potential illegitimate contractor scams that could follow Hurricane Dorian.

Licensed general contractors have passed examinations and met financial requirements to be licensed in the state, according to an NCLBGC news release.

The release included tips for people to follow when working with contractors for repairs. A project quoted more than $30,000 requires a valid license, but even if the job is estimated to cost less than that, a licensed contractor still provides a level of security, according to the release.

Other tips and a search for contractors’ licenses can be found online.

“We have asked all of our members to keep these rules handy in the days ahead, and should they find or believe that someone is performing work without the proper licensing requirements, please call the NCLBGC,” Moore said. “Unfortunately, with these types of weather events, we do see a rise of individuals that misrepresent themselves or their professional expertise and attempt to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners.” 

That’s why the WCFHBA’s main focal points after these types of disasters is to work with partners at the NCLBGC, as well as serve as a local resource to educate homeowners about contractors’ requirements to perform work in the state, he said.

WCFHBA began preparing for the storm earlier this week by reaching out to members and the general public.

On Wednesday morning, the association began protocols by updating its website and created a “stand-alone social media presence for any storm-related alerts or information that needs to be distributed or shared with our members and the general public.”'

That also included a consumer-driven approach to showcase local contractors and trade partner organizations that are available through the WCFHBA directory, he said.

“We will continue to utilize this approach as long as we feel that there is a need within the community,” he said.

On the insurance and permitting side, the association has also focused its efforts linking with local permitting and inspections departments, Moore said.

“After the storm passes, our permitting and inspections departments around the region will serve as a vital link for any type of emergency permits that may be needed to perform emergency repairs (Damage Assessment Stage),” Moore said.

Those permits include CAMA permits, HVAC Permits, electrical permits and general framing permits, he said.

The N.C. Department of Insurance (NCDOI) will also come into play as the association works in partnership with the department on permitting or inspection-related issues that may come up from the hurricane, he said.

NCDOI is preparing to set up insurance camps (a central point where insurance companies can help clients with claims) and victim assistance centers, if needed, stated a news release Friday. It, too, warned about the potential for dishonest contractors, fraud and abuse.

“The biggest issue we saw in Florence was being able to have enough qualified inspectors on the ground to carry out each jurisdictions damage assessment response. Areas that were hit hard will be working directly with NCDOI to help fill any manpower gaps.

“The association has positioned ourselves to be able to communicate this information to our members as soon as it becomes available from each jurisdiction. Once we move past the damage assessment phase, then we usually see many of these departments start to open back up for business and issuing permits again, particularly for new construction,” Moore said.

Staff with many local governments were out Friday assessing damages.

Town of Leland officials said property owners may begin making emergency repairs to businesses, homes and other facilities, if the repairs are temporary and necessary to protect further damage.

“Additional work may require a permit, which should be obtained from the Town of Leland Planning and Inspections Department the next business day following emergency repair work,” stated a town news release.

Permitting questions can go to Ben Andrea, director of planning and inspections for town at 338-9206 or [email protected]

Those in New Hanover County can use an online portal called COAST (Customer Online Application & Services Tool) for permits. County offices also will reopen Monday.

Moore said the permit issue is also important for area contractors and sub-contractors to get back to work.   
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