Major disasters seem to have struck the U.S. especially hard this year. Out-of-control wildfires, ferocious tornadoes and massive flooding have taken their toll in both lives and property. While the lost lives are tragic almost beyond comprehension, property damage and structural loss can be devastating in their own right. If you’re a homeowner or business owner victimized by a disaster, you have to start thinking about fire or storm damage renovation—or worse, totally rebuilding from the ground up—right away.
But wait. Not so fast
There are a few practical and safety issues to deal with before you’re ready to even think about fire or storm damage renovation or rebuilding. You and your family members, friends and neighbors may be in shock from the disaster. You may be injured. You may not be able to think clearly. It’s probably not the best time to be making big, costly decisions you might regret later.
So here are some tips you can focus on immediately:
- First, get everyone out of the house or building immediately. Is everyone accounted for? Is anyone missing?
- If your house is still standing, does it appear to have structural damage or does the damage seem to be relatively minor? For example, did a tree fall and damage a bay window? Or are there entire walls missing? If you’re trying to help someone out of the structure, be aware and cautious of parts of the building that could collapse and cause more injuries.
- If it’s safe to do so, take steps to protect property from further damage. For example, pull a tarp over a damaged section of roof.
- Before you decide to go inside the building, check the area for common dangers after a disaster, like the smell of a gas leak. Turn off the gas valve if you can get to it. Check for exposed electric wires in the house or overhead.
- Find a radio or cell phone if possible to learn what’s going on in the area. Are you out of harm’s way? Is there more trouble coming? Where can you go for assistance with shelter, food, medical care, clothing or other support? Find out where to go to sign up for emergency aid from state or federal agencies, such as FEMA, if you may need it.
- Contact your insurance company.
Once the dust settles, you’ll be better able to make decisions that will help you move toward the future, toward recovery. But you may find that potential pitfalls seem to lurk everywhere. You’ve heard all the bad stories about people taking advantage of disaster victims. You know… scam artists, door-to-door rip-off repair services and unqualified people trying to pass themselves off as professionals. There are even some workers who are capable of doing a good job but who do shoddy work because they’re rushing to get as many jobs as they can while the opportunities are “hot.”
A Few Tips about Fire and Storm Damage Renovation and Rebuilding
Officials with FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, have seen and heard it all when it comes to disasters and the aftermath of disasters. They offer some good advice for people hiring construction contractors for storm damage renovation or rebuilding:
- Watch for suspicious activity or possibly fraudulent practices.
- Don’t hire people you don’t know who show up and offer immediate service—and want cash up front.
- Always use licensed contractors and insist on proof of general liability insurance and workers’ compensation.
- Use local contractors if at all possible. If local contractors already have their hands full and you have to call on someone from another community, make sure they have a permanent business address.
- Ask for reliable references, wherever the contractor is coming from and check them.
- Make sure you have a signed contract for the work you’re hiring out before any money changes hands. It’s a good idea to have an attorney or trusted friend read over the contract before you sign it. And be sure you get a copy to keep for your records.
- Don’t pay in cash. It’s better to have documentation of the transaction on bank or credit card statements.
- Never pay more than a third of the costs of repairs up front. Pay the balance only when the job is completed to your satisfaction.
When it’s all said and done, what people really want—and need—are trustworthy and experienced contractors who will help them become whole again after a disaster. Homeowners and business owners in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and surrounding communities (and many states in the region) can count on getting that when they contact Construct-All USA for fire, flood or storm damage renovation or other post-disaster construction needs.
Construct-All USA offers 24-hour disaster response and restoration.
Construct-All USA has a team of industry professionals who bring some 50 years of collective experience to their clients. They are full-service general contractors known for their quality work and their respect for their customers’ budgets. They are prepared to handle all aspects of construction—residential and commercial—including design, planning, renovations, new builds, project management and roofing for custom homes and office and retail buildings to schools and apartment buildings.
For more details and reviews or to speak to a contractor, contact Construct-All USA today: