City encourages residents to check contractors’ credentials

As the city of Milford’s Sandy response turns from emergency management to help with repairs and rebuilding, the city is urging residents to make sure that all repair work is conducted by a licensed contractor and with proper permits.

The Department of Consumer Protection offers additional advice to residents hiring contractors: The contractor must have a valid license from the DCP for the work being conducted. Both the consumer and contractor must sign and date a contract, and the consumer must be given a copy for safekeeping.

Home improvement contracts must include a three-day notice of cancellation that allows the consumer 72 hours to change his or her mind. It must also include clear instructions on how a consumer is to cancel that contract — a valid phone number, fax number, and/or mailing address must be provided.

“We will do everything in our power to make sure that the permitting process is timely and customer-friendly,” said Department of Public Land Use director Jocelyn Mathiasen, “but we want to stress that it is for the safety and long-term best interests of our residents that the work is conducted by licensed professionals and that proper permits are obtained.”

For their own protection, homeowners should ensure that contractors obtain proper permits and follow through with inspections and a final certificate of occupancy from the city.

A permit provides numerous safeguards for property owners, city officials said. It ensures that the work is designed to meet building code standards, which promote safety. In addition, the permit process verifies that the contractor has the appropriate licenses and insurance. Work undertaken by a licensed contractor is also insured by the state through the Home Improvement Guarantee Fund.

Emergency repair work can be permitted retroactively. City officials emphasized in particular that electrical repairs need to be permitted and inspected.

“Water and electricity are not a good combination, and the last thing we want is fires to occur to homes that were flooded,” said Mathiasen.

Milford’s permitting department offices at 70 West River Street are open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with permits being issued from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Extensive information is available online on the department’s web site. Simple permits may also be applied for online at