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Fires are not uncommon, and the latest stats reveal annual total fire-related costs in the U.S. of over $14 billion dollars.
No one expects a house fire to happen to them but if the worst happens, do you know how to restore your home?
Fires start for many reasons ranging from faulty wiring to accidents in the kitchen. No matter how a fire starts, fire damage is one of the results.
Do you have a fire-damaged house? Keep reading for a guide to rebuilding a fire-damaged home.
Call Your Insurance Company
Every home needs a homeowners insurance policy. If you don’t have one, now is the time to get one.
A homeowners insurance policy is affordable, especially in light of what it could cost you not to have it.
Read through your policy and make sure you understand your coverage. Policies differ. Ensure that your policy covers the value of the home as well as its contents in case of a fire.
Make a video of the contents of your home periodically and keep it in a safe place. In case of a fire, you’ll have documentation of the condition of your home and the contents.
Is demolition a covered expense? In the case of a bad fire, your home may need demolishing. Check to see if this is a covered expense.
In case of a fire, call your insurance company as soon as possible. Let the claims adjustor know what happened.
Don’t start throwing your belongings away. Leave them for the adjuster to see the extent of the damage.
Board Up Broken Windows and Doors
Always check with the fire inspector before entering a damaged property. The inspector checks for structural damage you may not see to ensure your safety.
Once it’s safe, board up any missing or broken windows and doors to protect your home from intruders and the elements.
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Consider bringing in a third-party inspector to look at your home. Your insurance company sends an adjuster but the adjuster works for the insurance company.
He’ll make a decision in the best interests of the company which isn’t always in your best interest.
If the third-party inspector and the insurance company don’t agree, you can often negotiate with the insurance company. A quality third-party inspector looks at:
- Heating system
- Concrete or stucco
- Interior walls
Use a licensed structural engineer or contractor for this inspection. He’ll evaluate the integrity of the structure and the extent of the damage. He’ll also give you an estimate for all the repairs.
Repair or Demolish?
At this point, you’ll discuss the next steps with the insurance adjustor based on all the information.
Keep in mind that your idea of a total loss may not be a total loss for the insurance company and vice versa.
This is where it pays to know the terms of your insurance. If you and the insurance company decide to rebuild, move on to the next steps.
Dry the House Out
Unfortunately, fires lead to water and chemical damage. This happens for several reasons:
- Firefighters use water and sometimes chemicals for putting out the fire
- Fire-damaged water pipes and other plumbing fixtures
- Rain and snow entering a fire-damaged home
Getting the home dried out is important to reduce the growth of mold, mildew, and rot.
A company such as Cleanup and Total Restoration is crucial to this process since they have specialized equipment for drying out your home.
They can also identify mold and mildew and help with remediation.
Did the firefighters use chemicals when fighting the fire? These leave residues that are sometimes toxic and need cleaning.
Restoration experts may need to cover the residue in a sealant. This keeps the chemicals from releasing toxic or harmful odors and fumes.
Soot Cleanup and Debris Removal
Another type of fire damage is soot. Soot is corrosive and acidic and continues to cause damage if it remains on your home’s surfaces. Soot is also a cancer-causing agent.
Removing the soot improves the air quality and removes odors. Experts vacuum and wipe down soot from all fire-damaged surfaces.
They wear special clothing to protect themselves from any toxins.
They’ll also remove debris. Some items are potentially dangerous, such as electrical appliances.
Even unplugged, some appliances continue to store electricity. Use caution before touching any appliances. Better yet, let the experts help.
Once it’s safe, go through everything in the house and take any personal belongings that aren’t destroyed.
You’ll need to send some items for deep cleaning, stain removal, and deodorizing.
In some cases, professionals can restore furniture, carpets, and other fabric-based items. You can usually look at an item yourself to determine whether it’s salvageable or not.
Soot and smoke leave your clothing unwearable. As long as the clothing isn’t burned, a dry cleaner or professional laundry service can usually clean and restore your clothes.
You can salvage pillows, blankets, towels, and sheets if they’re not burned or full of mold and mildew.
Don’t immediately throw out photographs. They may be badly damaged but a professional can restore them to some extent. They can also sometimes restore art if it’s not burned.
Restoring a Fire-Damaged House
A house fire is a serious and unsettling event but you can restore a fire-damaged house.
Check with your insurance company first and don’t hesitate to hire a third-party inspector before moving forward.
The best way to restore a fire-damaged home is with the help of cleanup and restoration specialists. It’s a big job and one you don’t want to do alone.
Are you looking for information about remodeling, rebuilding, and home design? Keep scrolling the blog for more information and helpful advice!