Rebuilding your home after a disaster may seem difficult. You may not know how to do it, but remember that you can fix your home and make it livable again. All you need is to be strong, start doing, and consider this guide to help lighten the weight of the disaster’s aftermath.
Be Aware Of The Dangers After A Disaster
No matter what disaster strikes your property, you must be wary of the dangers that follow it. Thus, you must follow the official safety warnings before entering your property. Let the experts tell you when and when not to go back to your home since they know when it’s safe or not. They know that infrastructure may be damaged, including fallen power lines, broken gas pipes, and others that could put you in danger. Check out what other damage or risks you need to be aware of after a disaster:
After wildfires, extreme heat can cause damage to properties, even if they look untouched by the fire. Meanwhile, persistent smoke nearby can make people have a hard time breathing. Wildfires can also drive animals to find safety in unburned houses. And lastly, nearby trees may fall at any moment as they could be weakened.
Floodwater can contain chemicals, animal and human waste, and other hazardous materials from damaged infrastructure. Some may even conceal downed power lines or sharp objects, so standing in this stagnant water is unsafe after a flood. As to properties, a flood can weaken floorboards and become waterlogged.
It can also promote harmful mold growth indoors because of persistent moisture following a flood. As such, you may want to work with a disaster restoration company near you, like Flood and Fire Solutions, and others, before you start renovating your home. That way, you can be sure that your home won’t create problems, such as mold growth, in the future.
- Extreme Weather
Extreme weather includes disasters like intense storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and more. When they happen, they can weaken trees, damage homes, or cause power lines to fall. So, you must be wary of anything that may collapse near you when strolling along the streets or in your yard. Some of these disasters can even cause floods or wildfires. As such, you must prepare for any quick changes in the situation.
Strong earthquakes can destroy infrastructure on a large scale. It means they can present biological and chemical hazards from gas or chemical leaks where they strike. Such dangers are not visible to the naked eye, so authorities must check and clear food and water for possible contamination.
Protect Yourself During Post-Disaster House Rebuilding
Now that you’re aware of the lurking dangers after a disaster, you need to protect yourself. Although your first action might be to jump into action to save your prized belongings as they hold countless cherished memories, you shouldn’t. You must remember disaster rebuilding’s cardinal rule: people come first before property. It means you must prioritize your safety before going inside your damaged house.
Here is a list of some safety tips you need to consider during a post-disaster cleanup:
- Use high-efficiency particulate-absorbing (HEPA) vacuums, debris bags, and drop cloths to minimize the presence of toxic chemicals and dust.
- Prevent mold by drying the home as quickly as possible, or call for a restoration company. When mucking or pumping out wet and water debris, take your time to avoid accidents, such as slipping on the floor.
- Stay hydrated when rebuilding or cleaning up.
- Let more people help lift heavy debris and objects to avoid injuries like broken backs or joints.
- Before entering damaged structures, wear personal protective equipment, such as steel-toed boots, goggles, rubber gloves, hard hats, and respirators if need be.
- Avoid causing a spark by turning on the lights if you suspect a gas leak. Instead, contact emergency authorities after you leave your home.
- It’s best to re-enter the area or your property during daylight and when professionals have inspected and said your home is safe.
If the mess in your house is too much to handle yourself, you can always call in professionals to help you clean it up. This way, you can ensure that you’re safe while being rest assured that the cleaning or rebuilding efforts will get done.
Document Belongings For Insurance Purposes
Documenting your belongings before and after a disaster is vital when filing a claim with your insurance provider. By doing this, you can make things a whole lot easier. It can help you avoid relying on your memory to find the list of items that may or could’ve been there. But when you have an inventory, you can easily present what needs to be replaced or repaired by your insurance company. Moreover, a good list can get your claims processed and approved faster.
So, after a disaster, you must ensure that you create a list of everything that has been destroyed. Even if you want to throw out damaged things right away, you shouldn’t. Instead, you must do the following if you’re going to file claims:
Record The Extent Of Damage
Before throwing out damaged things, get your camera or video camera to help you capture and preserve the state of your house.
Start by having a thorough walk-through in each space to document the damage. Narrate while shooting a video so you can highlight everything from small to big furniture, appliances, and electronics. You can also take pictures of such items to have a visual presentation of the things that have been damaged.
List Down The Information
When listing your items, you must include everything, from linens to appliances. You should also account for your items by including their cost, where you purchased them, brand name, description, paper receipts (if any), model numbers, and serial numbers. All of this information can help quicken the settlement of your claim.
Even after listing down all the items and their information, it’s still best not to discard the items. Instead, save some pieces from their ruined condition to have a better repair estimate when the adjuster arrives.
Most importantly, create at least three copies of your inventory. You need one for yourself, your adjuster, and the insurance company. If you have various insurance policies, you must file separate claims as they may have different coverages.
Work With Professionals Or Contractors
Now that all your belongings are ready for insurance claims, you’re a few steps behind in rebuilding your home. Start by making temporary repairs to prevent the possibility of further damage or to secure your property. For instance, change the hinges of blown doors to keep your home safe from trespassers. Or seal the holes in your roof to keep the rain out.
Next is to consider hiring contractors or professionals to help rebuild your home. However, you shouldn’t rush to hire one. Doing so may cause you to fall into the hands of scammers because they’re more likely to take advantage of the disaster to earn money. While it’s normal to want to repair your home right after a disaster, it’s still best to take your time finding the right contractors. You may want to do the following to ensure that your home will be in good hands:
Do A Research
Find contractors with good records by comparing services and exploring your options. Doing this can uncover contractors’ issues such as timeliness, quality of materials and work, and billing. And it’s better to discover these problems before hiring them to save money and keep you away from headaches.
Ask For Referrals
You can ask your loved ones for recommendations, especially if they’ve worked with one previously. Or ask your local remodelers’ council or builders’ association for the members near you.
After having a list of potential contractors, ask them for written estimates. That way, you can check and compare offers that could fit your budget. But don’t settle for those that offer unbelievably low rates. If you fall into their sweet tongues, the quality of materials they use may not be up to standard, which, in effect, makes you spend more in the long run.
What better way to know more about contractors than to ask them questions, right? Thus, you might want to ask them for a consultation. During this stage, try to learn about the following:
- Building Permit: This may be required, depending on where you live. If so, ask them who will be responsible for getting it.
- Insurance: You also want contractors with workers’ compensation coverage and general liability insurance. It’ll ensure they’ll cover the medical expenses if something happens at the worksite.
- Registration Number Or Contractor License: Asking for such information is essential so you can verify its validity. It’s best to look at their registration or license number on your state contracting board. And if you want to choose ones that don’t have disciplinary or public complaints against them, check with your state attorney’s general office and the state’s licensing board.
- Experience: Knowing the length of business operation is vital since ‘experience is the best teacher.’ The more experience they have, the more likely they’re familiar with the building codes, necessary repairs, and other vital factors when rebuilding your home after a disaster.
It may be an extra task for you to check these things, but in the end, you’ll be the one who’ll significantly benefit from it. So, take the time to assess your prospective contractors and get the best quality of work for the money you spend.
Get Copies Of the Documents
Before work begins, you must get copies of the necessary documents to ensure that your contract is legal and on paper. Here are the documents you need from them:
- Signed contracts
And before signing contracts, ensure that all that you’ve agreed with the contractor is included. Do this by reading the documents carefully or letting a lawyer review them, especially if the contract involves a significant amount of money. With such, ensure that the contract has the following records:
- All verbal promises
- Schedule for any payments, including a total price
- Date of when the project starts and will be completed
- The person responsible for obtaining the necessary licenses and permits
- Quality and quantity of materials
- The person who will pay for materials
Important Home Renovations When Rebuilding Your Home After A Disaster
The purpose of rebuilding your home is to make it sturdier for disasters if there are any. You want to make it capable of withstanding possible damages from any disaster so that you, your family, and your belongings are safe during such events. Thus, you may need to consider the following improvement, depending on the extent of damage your house has:
Strengthen Interior And Exterior Walls
Even if interior walls are hardly affected by outside elements, they can be damaged by moisture during a flood or heavy downfall. Thus, you should never go easy on them. Instead, strengthen them so you can save on future costs and work on redoing them.
You can do this by upgrading the walls. For interior walls, deodorize them while renovating your home to prevent microbes from generating. As for the exterior walls, use water-resistant materials when reconstructing them. Most importantly, don’t use wood trim for your walls’ baseboards, as they can soak in water and get destroyed. It’s best to use materials that can last longer and are water-resistant such as polyvinyl chloride.
Safeguard Your Roof
Roofs are one of the most affected parts of a house when a disaster strikes. For instance, the roof can get blown away in a major hurricane. Whether it’s blown away or was extensively damaged, you might want to install it with high-quality shingles that can withstand strong winds and flying objects. Moreover, you may want to let your contractors install hurricane strapping to your roof if you live in places with frequent strong winds.
Upgrade The Basement
Your basement is also a significant part of your home that you should improve, especially after heavy rain, a hurricane, or flooding. Such disasters can make your basement submerged in water, resulting in damage to home essentials stored there. Thus, you want to repair the basement so it won’t create extensive damage when a disaster happens next time.
You can achieve this by renovating the grade of your basement to slope away from your house. It is one way to waterproof your basement since it can prevent water from flowing inside your home. In addition, you may want to use quality equipment like pipes, drains, and pumps when installing an effective drainage system.
Rebuilding your home after a disaster can be less tiring and overwhelming if you have a guide to follow. A guide will help you understand the dangers that may happen after a disaster, and in doing so, you can keep yourself protected. That way, you can have a clear mind and an able-bodied physique to start repairing or reconstructing your home with the help of contractors and other professionals. As such, use this guide to make the rebuilding process easier.