Dealing with Excessive Damage as a Homeowner

by Gail Brumfield

Every homeowner dreads coming back from a vacation only to find that a disaster has struck their house in their absence. Whether it’s a burst pipe causing flooding, or faulty electrical connections causing a fire, home disasters happen on a regular basis. Needless to say, these disasters are incredibly inconvenient, expensive, and frightening for everyone involved. In serious cases, you may end up replacing most of your belongings on top of intensive home repairs.

When it comes to dealing with home disasters, many people have no idea where to even start the process of fixing the massive damage and destruction. Most people only deal with these kinds of situations a few times in their lives, so it is often a new and daunting experience for a homeowner. Whether you’re dealing with a fire, flood, or some kind of storm damage, there are easy steps that one can take to get the ball rolling for home repair.

Here are some of the most common types of home damage with first steps you can take to start the home repair process:

Fire Damage:

A house fire is one of the most destructive situations a homeowner can face. Not only can fire quickly destroy your whole house, but even if kept contained to one room, the smoke can fill up the rest of the house causing filth and dangerous living conditions.

In the event of a fire, always remember, safety first! Make sure that everyone is evacuated from the home as soon as possible. Stay low to the ground while exiting to avoid smoke, and always check doorknobs before opening a door to keep fire contained. When all family members and pets are safely removed from the house, call 911 immediately. Generally the first person out of the house should make the call as soon as they are able.

Once the fire has been put out, it is time to assess the damage and file a claim with your insurance provider. Most insurance providers offer 24 hour emergency claim services, so you should be able to file the same day of the incident, no matter what time it is.

Once your insurance provider has been notified of your situation, it’s time to start the process of searching for a contractor who can assess the damage to your home and provide you with an estimate for repairs. Your insurance provider will take a look at the estimate and determine whether or not it seems reasonable for the work that needs to be accomplished. Once your insurance company signs off on the estimate, the contractor can begin the process of repairing your home.

Repairs can take several weeks to several months or even a year if the damage is severe. Depending on the extent of the damage you will probably want to seek a temporary living space for you and your family.

Water Damage:

Water damage is one of the most common types of home damage in the United States. It can stem from various sources, such as a burst pipe, broken appliance, or poorly installed plumbing. In many cases the source of water damage is readily apparent, like in the case of a broken dishwasher that is leaking excessive amounts of water onto the floor. Though, in some cases, water damage can take place over a long period of time, for example a small drip somewhere in the walls of your home that is slowly causing mold and rot in places that aren’t readily visible.

Be aware of the signs of water damage, you can find more information about what those look like here.

In the event of water damage in your home, first order of business is finding the source of the water. Sometimes it may be an appliance, and other times it might not be obvious where the source is. In cases where you can’t identify the source, turn off all water to your home. Once the source has been identified and stopped, take steps to remove anything salvageable from the affected area. This could be furniture, storage boxes, rugs, or anything that could be ruined by water.

When you’ve stopped the source of the water and salvaged anything that can be saved in the affected area, it’s time to report your incident to your insurance provider and call a contractor that can assess the damage to your home and provide you with next steps. Depending on the extent of the damage, water damage can necessitate the replacement of walls, floors, molding, and cabinets. In the most serious cases, water damage can cause severe structural problems that require extensive repairs. The sooner you get a contractor and your insurance company involved, the sooner your home will be back to normal.

Storm Damage:

This type of home damage can vary wildly in terms of what will be required to fix it. In the case of strong winds and hail, you may need to replace the siding or shingles on your home. Heavy rain could flood your whole property, or a tornado could break windows and tear off chunks of the roof.

Due to the variable nature of storm damage, there is no simple fix that I can provide that will be appropriate for all kinds of storm damage. Here are some good general rules that one can follow when dealing with powerful storm systems:

  • When high winds are expected, board up windows to keep debris from breaking the glass into your home.
  • In case of heavy rain, use sandbags on doors and windows that open up at ground level to keep excess water out.
  • Remember Safety First! Stay in interior sections of your home during a storm and far away from windows at all times.
  • Take care of any dead or dangerous looking trees around your property BEFORE a storm is approaching. This can help save you from a dangerous situation in the future.
  • Make sure cars and generators are full of gas, in case you need to evacuate or rely on your generator for power.

In the event of storm damage, inform your insurance provider of any damage that your home has sustained, and work with them to find a contractor that can help you get your house back to normal.

Finding the Right Contractor

There are many options when it comes to choosing a home damage contractor, and after dealing with a home emergency you’ve got more things to worry about than weighing the pros and cons of various contractors. For the quickest repairs, you’ll want to choose someone who is pre-approved with major insurance companies, as that will allow for the fastest communication between insurance provider and contractor, meaning your estimates will be signed off on faster and your repairs can begin sooner.

An example of this sort of contractor is Metropolitan Contractors in Northern Virginia. They specialize in home damage repairs, and work closely with most of the major insurance providers to ensure that repairs are completed quickly and properly.

If you are suffering from home damage, the team at American House on the Hill sincerely wishes you the best. We hope that everything goes well for your repairs and that you can quickly get back to doing the things you love in your home.