At Home: Three hurricanes, one homeowner's horror, and some heroes

Marni Jameson shares advice for rebuilding after a storm wreaks havoc on your home.
BY MARNI JAMESON Published: November 5, 2012

“By using donated supplies and volunteers, we turned one dollar into three,” Parsons said.

Eight years later, Lipofsky is finally moving back into her house.

“We see a fair amount of contractor fraud because we work with a lot of low-income folks, often seniors, who are the most vulnerable,” Parsons said, who along with Lipofsky, offered this advice. Heed it, and avoid your own remodeling horror story:

If you're looking to renovate after a disaster has affected many homes in your area, be especially wary.

When considering a contractor, talk to people in the area he or she has done work for.

Be highly suspicious of contractors who come in from long distances or other states.

Never sign a long-term contract. Approve work in stages, sign for it in steps, and pay for it in pieces.

Ask to see receipts for the materials allegedly purchased.

Check ratings of companies online through public sites like Home Advisor or Angie's List.

Find a homeowner who has been through the process before. Ask for his or her advice, guidance and recommendations.

Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through www.marnijameson.com.