The International Association of Structural Movers has advised homeowners to scrutinize their options before hiring a house mover, as the Hurricane Sandy recovery is expected to attract many disreputable firms.

Gene Brymer, the trade organization’s staff executive, said New Jersey residents must take heed from the lessons learned in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. A shortage of house movers there resulted in many residents going with undocumented companies.

“A whole bunch of movers in Louisiana were prosecuted because they were cutting costs on what they were doing and lying to the homeowners,” he said.

The first thing any homeowner should do is consult with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to decide what they will be required to do and what resources are available to them. They should also consult municipal building code officials to determine what the local requirements are.

Brymer said waiting until the final flood maps are released, if that’s possible, could help homeowners avoid raising homes too high or too low.

“You need to know what the government program is, instead of taking the contractor’s word for it,” he said.

When choosing a house mover, Brymer said, homeowners should find out whether the company is licensed and bonded.

“I don’t just mean ask the guy,” he said. “Ask for a copy, a print of the face of the (insurance) policy to see if it’s in effect. He may have had it eight years ago, but it may not be in effect now.”

Brymer said homeowners should also ask for references. Any reputable contractor should have a few satisfied customers who will vouch for them.

The association also provides a list of its 385 members on its website, www.iasm.org.

“I’d make certain this person I’m doing business with isn’t a fly-by-nighter,” he said. “I want to know they’ll be here 10 years from now when all this mess is cleaned up.”

Contact Wallace McKelvey:

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