(WHTM) — If your home is in need of major repairs, make sure you hire a reputable contractor to do the job.

Hiring a contractor for a project can be stressful, so make sure you research your selection carefully.

One woman who has no home to return to has a warning. A fire ripped through Crystal Stewart’s home in late 2021, leaving her family without a place to stay and all of their possessions gone.

But the story doesn’t end there. Stewart hired a contractor based on a local charity’s suggestion, “He sounded great on the phone, I hired him to rebuild my house,” said Stewart. After paying the contractor $125,000, months went by without any work being done.

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“He didn’t file for the permits, he never reached out to the HOA, he’s got $125,000 of my money and it’s gone,” Stewart added.

Stewart is now suing the contractor, hoping she can recover some of the lost money.

How can you avoid a contractor nightmare like Stewart? The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says:

  • Get quotes from at least three contractors
  • Then get every detail in writing
  • Check the BBB website for complaints and reviews

The BBB’s Joicile Ehrlich says that low pricing from contractors can be a red flag. “Be careful of low ballers, those people who come in and give you a very low quote that sounds great,” Ehrlich said.

Ehrlich also said to never pay more than 50% up-front.

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Stewart is now renting until she can recover her lost rebuilding money.