If you are looking to fix a fire-damaged house there are five important steps that you need to complete. Here is what you need to know about each:
Step 1 – Notify Your Insurance Company
This should always be your first step if you have suffered a fire in your home. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the fire.
The fact is most insurance policies require the policyholder to promptly notify the company in the event of a fire. Companies want to be notified so that its representatives can inspect the damaged property.
Most companies now offer a 1-800 number for you to call at any time to report your claim. When speaking with your agent either on the phone or in person, you should take that opportunity to not just report the fire but to also request a certified copy of your insurance policy.
Once you have that copy be sure to read the Conditions section, which can usually be found in the beginning of the policy. This section should contain a list of things you need to do in the event of a fire … be sure that you follow the list precisely.
Step 2 – Secure the Property
The next step after a contacting your insurance company to report the fire is to secure your property. You don’t want to risk having someone wander onto your property and get injured. You also want to prevent any possible future damage as well.
So you should board up or put a tarp over openings. If there is damage to the roof or a second story and the structure doesn’t look safe you may need to hire a board-up company to come in and do the work.
Don’t risk injury and further compounding the stress of this unfortunate event. Be careful whenever you are on-site at your fire-damaged house.
Step 3 – Have the Home Inspected
You need to have a qualified professional properly assess the damage that the house fire has caused. Many contractors and structural engineers are qualified to evaluate house fire damage. They look at the structural integrity of your roof, beams and more. They also estimate the overall cost for the repairs that are identified.
One thing to keep in mind here is that it can be to your benefit to not just rely on the inspection by the adjuster assigned to your case by the insurance agent.
Hiring your own inspector to assess the damage can give you something to compare against the adjuster’s inspection. Often times the insurance company may even pay for this inspection. If the company resists, send them a letter stressing their legal duty to investigate all damage sustained during a house fire.
If the company does ultimately decide not to pay for the additional inspection you may still want to follow through with and pay for it yourself. The findings could save you more than what the inspection costs.
What makes a good, thorough inspection? A good house inspection should look at the roof, the house’s structure, the outside of the home, all the windows, plumbing and heating and the interior walls and framing.
All of these areas can be damaged in a fire. Keep in mind burning is not the only damage caused by a fire. Smoke damage can also be severe and can extend a long way from where the fire occurred.
Smoke damage can also be very expensive to get rid of so that is another reason why a thorough home inspection is needed. It can be difficult to spot smoke damage in some areas – like in the air ducts, behind the walls and in other places. An experienced professional inspector can detect this damage. They also make sure that you are aware of what it is going to cost to repair the areas.
Step 4 – Hire a Contractor (or Skip to Step 5)
Finding a good contractor can be difficult but is definitely worth the effort. If you mistakenly hire a poor contractor you could be in for project delays, cost overruns and shoddy work. All of this could send your frustration soaring.
Some ways to find a good contractor include talking to friends and family who have had work done on their homes. You can also conduct a search online. Another option would be to ask your insurance agent for recommendations. He or she may have dealt with fire damaged homes in the past. As a result, they may know contractors who are particularly experienced in fixing a fire-damaged house.
If you do talk to your insurance agent don’t just go with his or her recommendation however. Remember, you and the insurance agent are actually on opposite sides of this situation. For instance, a less inexpensive contractor recommended by the agent may not be the right choice for your house repair project.
Also, a contractor who has done good work for others may still not be right for you and your project. It’s best to interview contractors face-to-face either in person, online or on the phone. This enables you to get a better feel for his or her personality and if it will mesh well with yours.
Also, during this interview process you should seek bids from multiple contractors. Getting bids from at least three contractors is ideal. That way you can judge them against each other. You can also get a better understanding of how professionals are viewing the damage sustained by your house.
Step 5 – Consider Another Option to Fixing a Fire-Damaged House
If you would prefer to not go through the process of selecting a contractor and having the repairs completed there is another option.
We Buy Fire Damaged Houses buys houses directly “as is.” That means you don’t have to do any fixing up of your fire-damaged house.
You simply sell to us. We offer great prices and pay in all cash so that you get your funds quickly. You can then use the funds along with your settlement to buy a house in the same or a different area.
You’ll avoid the stress that can often come with home repair projects such as unforeseen delays or cost overruns.
To determine if your home qualifies for a free quote, simply fill out the form below to tell us more about the home.