A house fire can be a devastating experience. You not only lose your valuables, but you may also lose your home in the process. Since rebuilding your home after a fire incident can be a daunting task, it is necessary to have accurate information and professional help to ensure a smooth process. Here are five tips to help you rebuild your home after a house fire.
1. Conduct a Home Inspection
A thorough home inspection will let you know the extent of damage to your home. It is also necessary when deciding whether to rebuild your home from the ground up or perform a simple remodel. The inspection may require different professionals, including structural engineers, plumbers, and electricians. An exhaustive home inspection includes the following areas.
- The roof
- Electrical switches, wires, circuits, and lighting fixtures
- Concrete and Stucco
- Home structure
- Mechanical systems like furnaces and pumps
- Areas susceptible to mold
- Heating systems
- Plumbing fixtures
Most times, your insurance company will send an adjuster to inspect the home. However, since they will be working for the company, they may not record all the damage. It is therefore advisable to work with licensed professionals for the inspection as they provide honest estimates.
2. Contact Your Insurance Immediately
Before you begin the rebuilding process, check with your insurance company to know what your policy covers. Note that homeowners insurance covers damage from fire and smoke. It also has an open perils coverage that protects your entire home and extended structures from all kinds of damage, excluding perils mentioned in the policy. For your personal property, your insurance policy will have a list of what it covers and what it doesn’t.
Calling your insurance company will help you begin the claims process and adequately plan for your rebuilding. Also, consider hiring a public insurance adjuster to assess the extent of damage and calculate how much money your insurance should pay. Doing so ensures that you get the maximum compensation from your insurance company.
3. Work with a Restoration Company
After a house fire, you need to clean out the debris, soot, and smoke before beginning the restoration process. You also need to eliminate water and moisture to prevent corrosion and the growth of mold and mildew. While you may consider doing it yourself, handling the tasks can be overwhelming and dangerous.
It is advisable to hire professional restoration services when planning your home rebuild for a hassle-free exercise. Your restoration contractor will not only inspect the damage and organize your home rebuilding but also offer advice on the best action to take after the incident. Ensure that the company you hire has the experience and license to handle fire disasters in your location. Knowing that your home is in capable hands gives you peace of mind and makes your home rebuilding less stressful.
4. Seek Temporary Housing
Avoid getting back into your home until you have clearance from the fire department that it is safe to do so. While the fire may seem to be out, it can reignite and jeopardize your safety and that of your family. Even after you get a clearance to get into the house, your damaged home may not be habitable due to the smoke and soot that sticks to the walls and floors.
The soot and smoke not only result in bad smells but may also affect your health as burning materials may release harmful toxins. Therefore, look for temporary housing while your home is uninhabitable or under construction. Evaluate your options, such as moving in with friends and relatives, staying at a hotel, or seeking help from the federal government. Your contractor or fire Restoration Company can guide you on the best way to find temporary shelter until you can move back into your home.
5. Document the Process
Proof of damage or loss is essential in helping you get all the financial support you need to rebuild your home. Create an inventory with details of the items you lost, and include the worth of each item. Also, take pictures of the damage whenever possible. On the same note, keep any receipts and any other proof of expenses you incur due to the fire for compensation purposes.
In case you lose important documents, replace them as soon as possible since some of them may be necessary when filing for claims. To be on the safe side, ask your insurance agent what documents they need so you can make them a priority. Some of the documents you should replace immediately include birth and marriage certificates, driver’s license, passport, and title.
While a home fire may not be entirely preventable, you can minimize future occurrences and fire damage. You can do this by ensuring you have a working smoke detector and fire extinguisher, keeping your furnace clean, and performing regular home inspections. Doing so ensures that your home systems, including electrical and HVAC units, are in good condition and do not pose fire hazards.