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Advice to Homeowners Going Through the Fire Damage Restoration Process—From a Pro

When you’re looking at your fire torn home, you may be stunned to find what’s inside. As you step through the home there is no telling how soft the floors will be. You’ll be afraid you’ll sink through them. You’ll see where the fire started and where it spread. You’ll see smoke damage that billows upward. You might find that everywhere you look you see black: walls, toilets, fixtures, tubs and mirrors. The smoke damage will be thick and you’ll be tempted to wipe it off with your hands. Some will rub right off but it won’t be enough to clean up the mess. You’ll notice the smoke has spilled clear through the insulation. You’re wondering if you’ll need to gut your home, replace all the electrical and plumbing, as well as fix the sheeting, shingles and trusses.

But you’re getting ahead of yourself.

How to Begin the Fire Damage Restoration Process

The first thing you need to do is call your insurance agent and then the claims department will assign you an adjuster. You need to file your insurance claim as soon as possible and you’ll soon discover that many insurance policies cover losses that come about from wind, fire, lighting and smoke. Typically, major fire insurance protects your home’s contents as well as other structures on your property like your garage. Depending on your policy, your insurance company will most likely cover the contents of your home.

To file the claim, you’ll need to give the:

Date of the fire or loss
Type of loss
Location where the damage occurred
Condition of property
Contents and their damaged state
Police report

Tips to Deal with the Insurance Company During the Fire Damage Restoration Process

Call in your claim promptly with the knowledge that you may face an interesting situation. You may believe that because you’ve just had a major loss, you know your insurance agent, and you pay your premiums on time, that you’ll be fine and they’ll give you top dollar right off the bat. It’s important to remember that insurance companies are a business. Their goal is to be profitable. This means when you file a claim, don’t be surprised if the offer you receive is lower than what you anticipated. That’s because their goal is to restore you to pre-loss condition. Their goal isn’t for you to profit from the tragedy. If you aren’t satisfied with the first offer, it is okay to push back. You pay your premiums. It’s the insurance company’s job to restore you to your pre-loss condition. You may feel fearful that your premiums will then increase, but it is still your responsibility to make sure their claims are paid in full.

To do so you can show receipts of different items, warranties, owner’s manuals, appraisals, and boxes. It may be useful for you to provide a list of all the items that were damaged in the fire by listing it room-by-room. You can request to see if your claim covers temporary housing while your home is under renovation. You won’t be entitled to any wages lost during the time of the tragedy.

After you’ve filed your claim, then it’s important to call a fire damage restoration company fast. Most likely your insurance company will have a list of companies they recommend, otherwise they will encourage you to seek a local business.

How Long Do I Have to Respond to Fire Damage?

After you have filed your claim, you need to call a fire damage restoration company. When fire and smoke occurs, it creates a chemical reaction and you only have about 72 hours until the damage leaves a permanent mark.

When you call, a fire damage restoration crew will be dispatched to your property. The fastest dispatch crews arrive within two hours of the event.

How Quickly Will Fire Damage Restoration Companies Begin Working?

The professionals will scope the damage looking for protein residues, natural substance residue, and synthetic residue to get an estimate of the damage. Project managers will show up at your property to come up with a game plan and you’ll find it’ll be emotionally stabilizing to have a team in place to help begin to pick up the pieces. They’ll take your building from a charred ruin to a working home again.

They’ll begin the emergency board up process right away.

What Does the Fire Damage Restoration Emergency Board Up Process Look Like?

Once the fire marshal clears the area, fire damage restoration companies will use plywood to board up your windows. Plywood is the cheapest option to board windows.

When the professionals are boarding your windows, they have options to secure it. They can use concrete screws, anchor screws, wingnuts or lag screws with anchors.

Crew members will measure your windows and add 10 inches to each dimension, unless there is a sill, then it will only be an additional 5 inches. Once the windows are measured the plywood will be cut according to the measurements. To board the windows in concrete, the technicians will use a masonry bit and screws and fasten the board to the house about 1.5 inches from the edge and then every 12 inches around the perimeter of the board. If your house has aluminum or other siding, the professionals will use a stud finer to search for the window frame stud. The holes from the plywood will line up with the center of the studs. The professionals will pre-drill holes in the plywood and then drill through to secure it to the building. You may notice that these boards are doubled up for larger windows and doors.

Emergency board up is critical to your home. Not only does it protect your property from the weather, it also discourages vandals from breaking into the property as well as helps with structural stabilization. Besides, it’s mandated from the insurance companies.

You may also find the professionals tarp your property. Tarps help protect your building from additional damage. The professionals will make sure to walk with caution over the areas that have been damaged. They’ll remove debris left behind from the fire and then they will locate the areas that are damaged. They will also check the underside of the sheathing, if it remains, for damage. Then they’ll unroll the tarp and use cap nails to secure the tarp to a 2×4 and secure the tarp to the roof with screws until the roof can be properly repaired.

What Tips Can I Learn from Fire Damage Professionals?

In a fire damage loss, you, the customer are the driver. You are free to choose any fire damage professional you want.

Choose a company that you trust to come to an agreement on what needs to be done and the price. Trust that the professionals will do everything they can to protect your home, keep the integrity intact, and remove the smoke smell. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. It will take work, time and planning to get your home restored, but it will be completed and place hope in the fact that you will, most likely, not have to encounter a tragic event like this again.