Long Island Contractors Warn of “Storm Chasers”

A downed tree took down power lines in East Rockaway after Superstorm Sandy. Some out-of-state home improvement contractors are charging double to remove falled trees.

Long Island - Sandy - Tree on House

Some Long Islanders requiring home repairs after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy are finding unscrupulous out-of-state contractors dubbed  “storm chasers” looking to make a quick buck, in some cases charging double for shoddy work.

The workers often provide sub-par repair jobs and are nowhere to be found if an issue arises after the work has been done. Local home improvement companies are urging homeowners to avoid such fly-by-night companies and only hire Long Island-based builders.

“I ran into a tree removal guy that came up from Florida doing work in the Commack area,” said Sal Ferro, President and CEO of Allure Home Improvements. “His price from house to house was going up and up and up as he was going around. It got to a point where he was charging one man $6,000 to remove a tree off his house.”

According to Ferro, the usual price for a tree removal is anywhere from $500 to $3,000, depending on how big the tree is and how much work is needed.

The most common lines of work that storm chasers try and perform after a natural disasters are roof repair, siding work and tree removal services said Joseph Walker, owner of Double Check Builders Inc.

Spotting a storm chaser is as easy as asking for identifications, said Greg Barnych, vice president of Florence Building Materials.

“Your best bet is to deal with a licensed, professional and local contractor who has been well established in the community,” said Barnych. “You can also check them out with the Better Business Bureau and the Department of Consumer Affairs.”

Making sure a contractor is local can also help ensure that homeowners are helping local businesses that, in some cases, can be equally affected by Sandy.

“I use Long Island companies because I believe in keeping it on Long Island,” said Ferro. “It’s important now more than ever for everyone to band together and make sure we’re supporting Long Island companies because for us to rebuild this economy on Long Island after this devastation we sure as hell need to keep as many dollars we’re spending as we can here on Long Island.”