A house fire damage repair involves a restoration process that is physically demanding, financially heavy, and emotionally exhausting. Some house fires are small, some are bigger, and every house fire is different. You must also remember that your mortgage will not stop, so evaluating if restoration is the best option quickly is essential.
This time of year, a few common causes of fires include electrical and heating or cooling system issues. And it’s also common to see fires start in the kitchen while cooking, or even a candle that gets too close to the Christmas tree. The colder months of the year are when house fire damage calls start to increase.
The National Fire Protection Association says an average of 358,500 homes experience structural house fire damage each year.
The sad reality behind these statistics, if you look at the root cause, is that most of these fires could have been avoided.
Of course, not all house fire damage results in a total loss, and some fires inflict minor damage or are very concentrated in one area of the house. Although house fire damage wreaks havoc in people’s lives, many homeowners are left with enough structure to consider a restoration process. The good news is that they can clean and rebuild the damaged parts and move on with their lives. The steps listed below can be helpful and should be followed to help get back to normality.
The First Steps in Your House Fire Damage Repair
House fire damage is a disorienting, nerve-wracking thing, and clarity of the flow of actions and prioritizations is complicated. You may need to make some critical executive decisions immediately, as you are still in shock or panic.
You should remember three major points:
One of your first calls may be to your insurance company to notify them of the house fire damage. Take the opportunity to ask questions about the process of lodging, expenses, and life for the next few weeks ahead.
Wait to enter the house until the fire marshal or fire department gives you the OK and tells you expressly that it is safe to enter. You do not want to get hurt or jeopardize your safety. Once inside your home, do not touch anything. Refrain even to salvage anything yourself, even if it is at reach. You must leave everything the way it is for the insurance company. Otherwise, you may risk seeing your claim denied.
Talk to an independent restoration company that will secure your home with tarping and board-up, clean, and restore it. The restoration contractor will also put you in touch with licensed structural engineers, carpenters, and other trades that will help with the reconstruction process.
If you remember these three steps, you can start on the right path. It does not mean that it will be any easier for you and your family, but you will have the assurance that you set the right pieces in motion and everything starts with what comes next.
Secure The Place
The post-fire scene is a troubling sight of a mix of burned debris, water, and chemicals used to extinguish the fire. Depending on the extent of the fire, most of the time, doors and windows and portions of roof and sidings may be destroyed.
This is when the restoration company gets involved. To protect the house from undesirable visitors or to prevent further damage, the restoration company will board up destroyed accesses with plywood and tarp entire sections of sidings and roof.
The first objective of the restoration company is to protect what is left of your belongings by making sure no one, humans or animals, can access your home from broken windows and doors. This also protects all areas exposed to the elements like rain and snow.
Evaluate What Is Left
House fire damage is a disorienting thing. You need to involve the right teams and surround yourself with competent people used to dealing with house fire damage daily.
The insurance company will send their expert to assess the extent of the fire damage. This expert is the insurance company’s engineer who will write a report to the insurance company on the condition of your structure, walls, floors, and roof.
The evaluation process helps everyone understand the house’s overall condition, determine which parts need replacement or repair, and scopes the entire house from the foundation, sidings, envelope, framing, walls, roof, etc. Simply put, it will help determine if it is safe to live in the house and the extent of the repairs.
The restoration company will help triage your personal belongings, decide what can be salvaged, and go through the cleaning and repair process.
Time to Clean
Your restoration company specializes in cleaning up the mess. They have the equipment and resources that this specialty cleaning requires. This is what differentiates a restoration company from a standard mainstream cleaning company.
- Here are the steps that they will follow:
Area containment to avoid safety and environmental hazards.
Triage, packing, cleaning, and storing of your personal belongings.
Removal of debris and destroyed construction materials.
Water and chemical extraction
Drying and dehumidification of surfacesDeep soot and smoke cleaning
Restoration companies typically use an arsenal of specialized equipment like dehumidifiers, fans, thermal fogging machines, industrial ozone generators, dry-ice blasters, and other specialized equipment that standard cleaning companies do not have.
They will remove anything wet, from rugs and furniture to construction materials. In a house fire damage, another major threat comes from water damage that can lead to mold development. So drying everything properly is a big focus for a restoration company.
Then, they will take care of the smoke and soot. Both are incredibly smelly and corrosive to soot. All surfaces must be thoroughly cleaned with industrial vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters and specialty cleaning products. Every square inch needs to be cleaned multiple times.
The scope of that cleaning always extends to carpets, upholstery, rugs, clothes, draperies, linens, etc. That step often involves a professional dry cleaning service.
Another area of focus of your restoration company is your ductwork and HVAC system. Both must be inspected and need to be part of the cleaning and deodorization process because the filtration system may have trapped the accumulation of soot particles.
The Documentation of Everything
From start to finish, your restoration company will focus on documenting every step of the way and progress made. Tons of pictures are taken with thorough reporting of the different milestones.
Reputable and legitimate restoration companies work directly with insurance on the documentation piece. Paperwork and digital photographs are directly sent as documents to the insurance claim. The information shared will also include repair and replacement costs.
Although most restoration cleaning companies do not handle repairs, the most experienced ones develop a network of trades and preferred vendors to which they trust and are able to refer them to you.
So, if you need a general contractor, an electrician, a master plumber, flooring installers, or a roofer, ask your restoration company; they can help leverage that network and guide you through that process. In some cases, they will subcontract some of these services.
Repairs Can Now Start
It will take a while to reach this step of the process, and that last step will take some time to complete. It is essential to arm yourself with patience and hire a restoration company to help reduce lead times and simplify the process for yourself and your sanity.
Hiring the right professional in fire and water damage restoration will ensure that your home repairs will be correctly handled post-fire damage with a suitable range and breadth of services. For more information about our restoration services and to learn how we have helped hundreds of families, get in touch with our team.