In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina taught us many lessons about life and recovering after a flood. Many friends and family lost everything and many people took years to recover. When you suddenly lose everything you have worked so hard for, life can become unbearable. Last year in August of 2016, the so called “Great Flood” quietly poured massive amounts of water and flooded thousands of homes. Through both of these disasters we learned some valuable lessons about flooding. Our goal is to share these experiences with you in hopes that our experiences can benefit you in some way.
When it comes to your home, a flood can do a lot of damage and create a lot of chaos. At Martinez Construction, we completely understand what happens in a flood, our own homes were flooded in 2016 as well as our community of Baton Rouge.
We know just what your family is going through, and that’s why you can trust that we are here to serve your family in your time of crisis.
Believe us when we say that there are predatory companies coming to your town after a flood that will take advantage of your family’s situation if you let them.
Here is what you should know as you go through the process of restoring your home after a flood.
For starters, it only takes 24 hours for clean water to start creating mold spores. The dirtier the water the faster mold will form.
Flood waters are considered to be in the same class as sewage water. Imagine the water basically mixing with everything in town, sewage, gas, basically every chemical under every sink in the neighborhood, this is not clean water. Mold will begin forming very quickly, so it’s important to make sure you address this as quickly as possible.
PHASE 1: Managing Your Insurance Claim
Dealing with your insurance company can be tricky at times when it comes to a flood claim.
Most people only deal with this once in their lifetime. The insurance companies know that you will rarely deal with a claim of this magnitude and unfortunately we’ve seen homeowners get taken advantage of by insurance companies during this process.
The basic process is the adjuster comes and looks at the property, then based on what your policy says, they write up a damage report using a software that assigns a cost to each repair based on local pricing for materials and labor. They are estimating what it will cost to hire a company to come in and repair everything, line by line.
PRO TIP: Having a contractor present at the same time as your insurance adjuster will make sure your adjuster takes their time in building your claim properly. They know that contractors deal with these claims almost as much as they do.
The damage report your insurance company sends you is an estimate of what they think it will take (at a minimum) to return your home to the condition it was in prior to the damage from the flood. You are allowed to submit your own estimate from contractors if they differ from what the insurance company sends you and the insurance company may or may not approve the new estimate. Whether the insurance company approves the new estimate or not depends on many factors. Each situation is unique, and it’s best to allow a company like ours to help you with this process if we are doing the reconstruction.
Once this gets approved by your insurance company, they will send you a copy of your approved damage report, along with a check.
CLAIM TIP: Make sure you take a look at the last pages where it breaks down the total amounts owed to you under your policy. The actual cash value check is less a depreciated amount. The older your home is, the more depreciation the insurance company will hold back. If your policy is an “actual cash value’’ policy, this will be the only check you receive, if you have what is called a “recoverable depreciation” that means you are getting the depreciated amount after the repairs are completed.
We have a lot of experience and knowledge in working with your insurance company to make sure you can get your home back in order. Our number one goal is getting your family moved back in to your home within the budgeted funds the insurance company sends.
The last thing you want is to end up not having the funds necessary to finish putting your home back together. Part of that is making sure your claim includes everything that to complete the restoration project. It also means that you need to make sure you aren’t getting price gouged by contractors looking to cash in on your crisis.
PHASE 2: Extraction & Drying
The very first thing you need to do is extract everything that is wet from your home. Furniture, flooring, drywall, cabinets, etc…
You may need to have an extraction team come and extract some standing water if you have any in areas of your home where the water isn’t draining, you can also use a wet/dry shop vac, you don’t need to worry too much about getting all the water out of your carpet etc… because you’ll be removing all of that from your home.
PRO TIP: When removing drywall if you find the seam where two pieces meet (typically at 4ft from the floor) remove the tape and you’ll get a nice clean seam which will make re-installing the drywall much cleaner.
It’s important to get the walls open, under your cabinets (if they aren’t coming out), anywhere that is dark needs to see the light of day. Mold grows in dark, wet places. Everything is wet in your home after a flood, so the inside of everything needs to see the light of day so it can dry!
PRO TIP: We highly recommend hiring a company to bio-wash your home to eliminate the possibility of mold. You can read more about bio-washing here…
PHASE 3: Reconstruction
There are two ways to go about the reconstruction of your home.
First is to do it yourself. If you are able to do it yourself, you will save money but it will likely take you a long time.
PRO TIP: Make sure you price out your materials for the entire reconstruction before you begin. This way you’ll be able to budget accordingly if you get stuck on something and need to hire a professional.
Second, and most common, is hiring a contractor. You want to make sure you are doing business with a quality company that will be around after the repairs to address any kind of warranty issues as well as get the job done right to begin with.
Fair warning, there are a lot of construction companies coming in to a town after a disaster like a flood.
So how do you select a contractor? Here are the MUST HAVE criteria to ensure you’re using a reliable company to do your reconstruction.
Are They Properly Licensed?
Each state has different licensing requirements for contractors. A quick search on your states licensing website will tell you what types of contractors will need a license. You’ll also be able to do a search and find out if a company is licensed as well.
Is Their Company Insured?
Accidents and injuries happen from time to time. It’s important to make sure your contractor is insured in case something happens.
Ask to see their liability insurance. If they have it they won’t have any issue giving you a copy.
Do They Have References?
Unless they are a brand new company, they should have some other homeowners they can refer you to that won’t mind you contacting them.
Are They Asking for Money Up Front?
If you have hired a contractor to do the entire reconstruction, its common practice for there to be a payment schedule based on work completed. The process should be broken down into phases of construction with benchmarks that trigger a payment to the contractor.
This way you are in a position where you have control over the project because you control the funds. If you aren’t satisfied with the contractor’s performance, you’ll be free to find a new contractor.
WARNING: Never give a contractor all of the money your insurance company sent you up front. If they ask for it this is a huge red flag! Consider using another contractor if they won’t do the work on a payment schedule based on work completion.
If you have any questions regarding your flood restoration please do not hesitate to give us a call.