This crazy looking cloud was part of that wicked storm that blew through Billings Sunday night 8/11. Tracy Smith on KULR 8  did some digging with their fancy radar and according to them, this was not a funnel cloud. Still looks like a shady character, if you ask me.

Now your roof, house, siding, windows are damaged from the golf ball-sized hail that tore up a lot of our area. This is one of the few times being a renter has an advantage.

As a homeowner, you've talked to your insurance (always the first step).  Then you need to hire a roofer.  Here's how to avoid the "storm chaser" roofing companies that can leave you high and dry. While I mention roofers a lot, these tips apply to siding guys, fence companies, tree removal services, paint-less dent repair, etc that often show up after a storm

1. Do your research. Are they local? How long have they been in business? Licensed and insured? You can search registered business licenses on the Billings City licensing look-up page HERE You do have to register an account, but it's free and pretty straightforward.

2. Check references. And don't be afraid to call them. A good local roofing company will have a big book full of before-and-after pictures of tons of local jobs they've completed.  Also, ask them to tell you about a time a roofing project went wrong and what they did to correct the situation. Sometimes, even with the best contractors, issues do arise and you'll feel better if they know how to make things right.

3. Look them up online. Do they have a business facebook page with photos from jobs they've done in Billings in the past couple of years? When was the page created? Do they have a lot of "friends" that you might know? Billings is not that big. When I look up nearly any legitimate business in Billings, I always have at least a handful of friends in common.

4. Avoid payment upfront. Be extremely cautious if the contractor you've never heard of is asking for money upfront. Some scammers will ask that you sign over the first part of your insurance check so they can get materials to get started. They cash your deposit and disappear.

5. Super High Pressure. How often do you see local roofing companies going door-to-door to sell you their services? Not very often. Because they don't have to. The storm chasers are usually very good salesmen and mediocre roofers. They are like timeshare salespeople, only worse. You don't really need a timeshare. You DO need new windows and a roof. Maybe some siding.  If their prices are too good to be true and their sales pitch is aggressive, pass.

6. Get more than one quote. Honestly, there are TONS of well-reviewed and respected builders/contractors/roofers in Billings. After doing your research, choose three and get some quotes. Pick the one that showed up the fastest, was fairly priced, professional and answered all your questions in a non-pushy manner. Book 'em!