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Corpus Christi's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Corpus Christi, Texas | kiiitv.com

How to report price gouging in wake of winter storm disaster

People will be looking to get work done and there are some tips they can follow to avoid getting ripped off.

HOUSTON — Busted pipes are forcing people out of their homes across the Houston area. Repairs could take months as contractors race to keep up with demand.

Judy Hannon has owned her home in The Woodlands for 18 years. It's now unlivable due to busted pipes.

“Our home was built to manage Houston summers, not Minnesota winters," her husband Dr. Dan Hannon said.

Jeff Hunt owns a construction company and is a member of the Greater Houston Builders Association.

“I think this damage will be ... maybe not from a dollar standpoint per house as high as Harvey where you had $70,000, $80,000, $90,000 dollars of damage. These might be $5,000, $10,000, $15,000, but it’s going to be so widespread," Hunt said.

When you're picking contractors, Hunt advises you to watch out for the price gouging he saw after Harvey.

“I saw bids that were astronomically high, I mean 10, 15, 20 times what the real price should be," he said.

To make sure you hire the right contractor, you can search for one on the Greater Houston Builders Association’s website. Look-up the license for the plumber you hire on the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Also, check with the Harris County District Clerk to see if any lawsuits have been filed against the plumber you're considering.

“It’s OK to grieve because it is a loss," Hannon said.

She's planning to be out of her home for two to three months and she's choosing to look at the bright side.

“We decided after 18 years in the house, it was time for an upgrade renovation, so that’s the way we are going to look at it because it’s a whole lot easier than crying," Dan Hannon said.

Another tip is to get a copy of your contractor’s general liability insurance from their carrier, not them. That way you know it’s not forged.

If you see price gouging, local and state officials want you to report it.

You can do that by contacting the Harris County Attorney's Office or the Texas Attorney General.