Being the victim of fire certainly brings its share of sadness and worries. Whether one thinks of lost memories or the work required to restore the house and the expenses that will necessarily accompany it, this is not the time for celebration.
Faced with this situation, however, it is important to take things in hand quickly so that the premises can be restored to good condition as soon as possible. Below is everything you need to understand about it.
1) Get in touch with the insurer quickly and avoid secondary damage
Once the damage has been noted, you must first contact your insurance company to inform them of the situation and start the claims process. To obtain service as quickly as possible, do not hesitate to use the company’s emergency number. Before calling, you must have the following information ready:
- the type of loss that occurred;
- the date and sequence of events;
- the coverage claims you will be having in case of fire.
Following this phone call, the company will send one of its agents to the scene to ascertain the extent of the damage. It should be noted that your insurer will usually take care of getting in touch with a claims adjuster to help him with this task.
While it may be tempting to start work immediately, be careful not to make any permanent repairs unless authorised by your insurance agent. Otherwise, you may not be able to claim compensation for the work performed.
If you have received the green light and the fire department of your municipality allows you to enter inside, take the necessary steps to prevent the damage already done from getting worse. If you delay taking action, your insurer could refuse to cover part of the work, that is, those that would have been avoided if you had acted in due time. This is why you shouldn’t delay in finding a contractor to help you!
2) You must choose a contractor specialising in disaster restoration
Be aware that the work performed must meet defined standards, which are updated regularly. This is why it is essential to entrust your project to a contractor specialising in disaster restoration work. In fact, it is exactly this type of professional that your insurance company will recommend you to use.
In some cases, the company can advise you on this, but be aware that this choice is yours. Regardless of whether you take his recommendations into account or not, the key is to choose a contractor whose employees at least have a certification attesting to their competence to perform this type of work. Ask for a written guarantee to be sure that you are indeed dealing with qualified personnel for this type of project.
Remember that all the tasks performed must be mentioned in the description of the work. Also, keep in mind that you should never agree to pay for work that you have not authorised.
3) Quickly determine what is covered and what is not
As for assessing the nature of the work that will be carried out, you will have to determine everything with your insurer as well as with the contractor chosen for your project.
To guide you in this important decision-making process, ask your insurer about the scope of your insurance coverage to find out which work is covered and which is not. In this regard, be aware that it is recommended to request written confirmation of this information from your insurer.
In the same vein, it is important to note that it is possible that you disagree with your insurer concerning the work that should be covered. This is why it is advisable to note in a separate document all the points which are in dispute. If you are faced with this type of situation, you will have to appeal to the courts or initiate arbitration proceedings.
In passing, it should be noted that insofar as the amount claimed for the damages incurred does not exceed the limit of your coverage, the amount of your deductible may be deducted from the compensation.
4) You can pre-approve the products used during the cleaning
In the event that you or certain members of your family experience health problems involving sensitivity to mould or to various chemicals, be sure to inform the contractor responsible for the work. The latter can then choose to use other products.
However, be aware that it would be preferable for your doctor to confirm everything with your insurer. If additional costs are necessary, be aware that your insurer may refuse to cover them. You will then have to cover this expense yourself, which will still give you the right to pre-approve the products used.
If you don’t want to take any chances, have your contractor run some tests on a small portion of the material. You can then determine whether the products used are causing problems or not.
5) We must start by securing, cleaning and drying the premises
The first work that will be carried out will aim to secure the premises (barricade the windows, lock the doors and protect the house adequately to face bad weather) as well as dry all surfaces and clean the house. Damaged materials and furniture will be removed, along with smoke residue.
Note that in frost, the pipes will be emptied to avoid any plumbing breakage. As we mentioned above, it is your job to ensure that the damage already incurred does not get worse, so these tasks should be undertaken as quickly as possible.
Particular attention will be paid to the drying out of the premises in order to prevent mould from growing. Once the water is removed, a dehumidifier will be installed to dry the premises properly. We will also try to lower the humidity level (to a level below 65% in two days) until the evaporation completely dries the surfaces.
If access to the house is delayed due to a safety issue, ask the contractor to ensure that the drywall is not soaked with water or moisture. If this is the case, they will obviously have to be replaced to prevent mould growth from polluting the air in your home.
6) You must approve the work
As we have already pointed out in a previous article, it is essential to stay abreast of what is happening in relation to the progress of the work. Indeed, it is important to note any problem along the way (if any) so that the desired fixes can be made.
In this regard, note that you must mention in the work approval document a note indicating the nature of the problem, and this, asking the insurer to withhold a certain amount until the situation is corrected. In the same vein, remember that you must maintain communication with the contractor responsible for your project throughout its implementation.
7) You should opt for a heat recovery ventilator
Since the work in the house required the use of chemicals, running a heat recovery ventilator at high speed in the months following the disaster is an often recommended measure for cleaning the air. This device will in particular prevent the still contaminated air from diffusing inside the house through its components (floors, walls, and others).
8) You should improve the energy efficiency of your home
Following a disaster, it may be interesting to take advantage of the restoration work to improve the energy efficiency of the house. You could decide to change your windows to energy-efficient models, buy new appliances that use less water, or improve the insulation of your property. If this idea interests you, note that there are various tax credits and subsidies to help you financially in this process.
Digvijay Rajdaan is an interior designer at Design By Lavassa. He is an award-winning interior designer of residential and commercial spaces. He strives to design unique interiors that will have a positive impact on his clients’ lives.