Price gouging is illegal in California  

The California Office of the Attorney General lists these goods and services as covered under the law:

• Hotels and motels

• Rental housing

• Consumer food and drink, including food and drink for animals, and other consumer goods

• Goods and services used for emergency cleanup

• Emergency supplies, including water, flashlights, radios, batteries, candles, blankets, soaps, diapers, temporary shelters, tape, toiletries, plywood, nails and hammers

• Medical supplies, including prescription and nonprescription medications, bandages, gauze, isopropyl alcohol and antibacterial products

• Building materials, including lumber, construction tools and windows

• Freight

• Storage services

• Gasoline and other motor fuels

• Repair and reconstruction services

Reconstruction and Repair Advice  

Try to settle your insurance claim directly. If you feel you are not being well served by them or if you have a particularly complicated claim, an independent adjuster may be helpful. These are licensed professionals. Confirm license, references and local experience. There is a charge for their services. 

If you are considering hiring a lawyer or public adjuster, be wary of unsolicited calls and don’t let anyone scare you into signing a contract.

Don’t be rushed into signing any contract. Check references, state licensing, Yelp, BBB and their insurances (disability and workers’ compensation insurance)—if the contractor is not insured, you could be liable for accidents on your property.

Check with your insurance company; it may have list of preferred vendors.

Beware of contractors that encourage you to spend lots of money on temporary repairs. This may take away insurance coverage money that you will need for permanent repairs. 

Beware of contractors that ask for large advance payments. They may start but not complete the job.

Get more than one written estimate prior to initiating any work and make sure it covers all the work contracted for.

Get everything in writing and keep copies of all documents. Fill in all the blanks. Do not sign a contract leaving anything blank.

Contracts should clearly specify the work to be done, the schedule, payment terms and other expectations. A notice of cancellation—giving you the right to change your mind within a specific period—should also be included. 

Confirm in writing whether or not the contractor will place a lien on your property for unpaid bills

Never make a down payment until you have completed your due diligence (see above). Do not pay for the entire job at the beginning. Make payments in thirds (1/3, 1/3, 1/3). Keep receipts.

If work is guaranteed by the contractor, or the contractor is using materials and products that are guaranteed, these should be written into the contract clearly stating what is guaranteed, who is responsible for the guarantee (the dealer, contractor or manufacturer) and how long the guarantee is valid.

Do not sign completion papers or make final payment until the work is done to your complete satisfaction. 

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