Part 1 of 4 – Tips on Hiring a Contractor After a Disaster

 What type of contractor do I need to repair my flooded home?

As Featured On EzineArticlesClarksville Flooding-FEMAIf your home has been damaged by a flood, you may need to hire the services of professionals to mitigate the damages, handle any damaged personal property, or perform repairs.  Typically, contractors who specialize in flood mitigation and repair are most familiar with the techniques and processes that this type of work requires.  Contractors who specialize in flood damage remediation or “flood restoration contractors” understand the proper procedures necessary to restore and/or dry out a home or building and its contents.  Some of the specialized equipment they may include: truck mounted and portable vacuums or water extractors, high velocity air movers, dehumidifiers, and moisture meters to monitor the drying process.

Residential home remodelers or custom home builders may not have the experience that flood restoration contractors have in this field and may not have the expertise to properly mitigate the damage and/or prevent increased levels of microbial growth (mold).  If mold becomes a concern, you may need to hire a certified industrial hygienist to test for mold and provide a restoration protocol or guidelines to mitigate any mold issues.  Keep in mind that if you have insurance, your homeowners’ insurance policy may have very little or no coverage for mold remediation, so contact your insurance company to find out if you have coverage and what your limits are.  Mold remediation can be very expensive!

Usually after a flood, the restoration process will have three main components:

  1. The first is the structural drying phase.  This is where the water and moisture is removed along with any materials that cannot be saved such as warped or damaged flooring, baseboard, wet drywall, etc.
  2. The second component is the handling of any personal property.  This may entail packing up all of the contents of the home including clothing, furniture, or other items and storing and/or restoring them offsite until the structural repairs are completed.  This phase also may require the creation of an inventory to document or list any personal property that may have been damaged beyond repair and that needs to be replaced.
  3. The third phase in the restoration project is the structural repair.  This entails the restoration of building elements that need to be repaired or replaced, including insulation, drywall, baseboards, cabinetry, flooring, painting, etc.  In some cases a single restoration contractor may offer to perform all three phases or you may want to choose one company to handle the drying while other companies handle the contents and structural repair.

Before you sign a contract for flood remediation services, consider the following:

  • Read every word of the contract and be sure you understand the terms and conditions.
  • Review any fee schedule that details what the charges will be for labor and equipment.
  • Get an estimate of what the drying process may cost before any work begins.  Any costs or charges that your insurance company does not cover or pay for, you may be held personally responsible to pay.
  • Obtain copies of certificates of general liability and workers compensation insurance and be sure the policies are current and in force.
  • Obtain copies of any Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) if the contractor intends to use any chemicals, anti-microbial agents, or other substances in your home that could cause adverse health effects.
  • Check references and affiliations with trade organizations and the Better Business Bureau.
  • Photograph and document your home, its contents, and the extent of any damages prior to anything being done or moved.

For more information on this topic, get The Red Guide to Recovery – Resource Handbook for Disaster Survivors, available now as an e-Book from Barnes & Noble and iTunes, or a Mobile App from iTunes.