How to Hire a Professional Contractor to Handle Storm Clean Up and Home Repair

As home owners in the Iowa City area grapple with how to recover from the Aug. 10 powerful derecho that served up near 100-mile-per-hour winds and wreaked havoc upon trees and homes, The Greater Iowa City HBA encourages residents to consider the following before hiring businesses to aid with clean up and repairs.

How to Find a Qualified Contractor

  • Ask your friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors for referrals.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau or Iowa City Area HBA. All HBA members are insured and reputable. A list of members is available at Choose from the “Select a Category” drop down menu on the top right to find roofing contractors, landscapers and more.
  • Research leads online, including browsing their websites for content, reviews, pictures, previous projects and general information.

15 Questions to Ask Potential Contractors

  • Are you a member of any professional organizations?
  • Do you hold any certifications?
  • Are you registered in the state of Iowa? (Verify at 515-242-5871 or email
  • Are you a local business?
  • What county do you operate out of?
  • Are you insured?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Can you provide a list of references from previous clients? (then check them)
  • Have you done a project like this before?
  • Do you have trained employees and are they covered by work comp?
  • How far out are you scheduling?
  • Approximately how long will the work take to finish?
  • Do you provide your quote in writing?
  • What does your quote include and what are additional costs that could come up?
  • What is your payment schedule?

10 Ways to Spot a Scam

The contractor:

  • Knocks on your door for business or offers you discounts for finding other customers.
  • Just happens to have materials left over from a previous job.
  • Pressures you for an immediate decision.
  • Only accepts cash, asks you to pay everything up-front or suggests you borrow money from a lender the contractor knows.
  • Tells you your job will be a “demonstration” or offers a lifetime warranty or long-term guarantee.
  • Doesn’t list a business number in the local telephone directory and can’t be found on the Internet.
  • Gives a price that seems too good to be true.
  • Won’t put the estimate in writing.
  • Presents a limited time offer.
  • Asks for a substantial down payment up front.

Being Safe During COVID-19

  • Conduct contractor meetings virtually when possible.
  • Meet outside.
  • Maintain 6-feet distance, wear a mask while meeting and sanitize before and after meeting.
  • Ask what safety measures the contractor and employees utilize.

“Disreputable business flock to communities after disasters and take advantage of residents with offers of an immediate fix and false assurances,” said Iowa City Area HBA President Glenn Siders of Siders Development. “Home owners must do due diligence before hiring and price and speed aren’t always the best way to evaluate. The HBA is ready to help home owners make good decisions and receive excellent work.” 

Stay safe during tree removal by following OSHA’s tree trimming guidelines