A Guide to Restoration After Damage to Your Home
Natural disasters happen and unfortunately, there’s no way to prevent them. Instead, you need to feel prepared for them at all times, whether by having the right insurance or creating an emergency plan to deal with damage. Here’s what you need to know to be the best homeowner possible.
Types of Damage Your Home Might Undergo
You need to watch out for several types of destruction as a homeowner. These damages will often be covered by your homeowner’s insurance or a different kind of insurance you pay a premium for. You should know what to expect when you undergo these destructive forces of nature — that way, it’ll be much easier to set and execute a plan.
People need to be more aware of how much damage storms can create. Lightning can strike and cause a tree to fall, leaving your home open and vulnerable. Storms with high winds can knock shingles off your roof or damage it in other ways. You should always check your house after a major storm, as damage might be difficult to detect immediately but can amplify over time.
Nearly 30% of fires happen in homes, making it a real danger you must prepare for. Fire damage can compromise the integrity of your home and leave soot on many of your belongings. These items — if you wish to keep them — will need a thorough deep cleaning, especially if they’re made of fabric, like clothing or stuffed animals. You may also notice cosmetic damage to the walls from smoke.
When encountering a flood or hurricane, you may have so many thoughts flying around that you can’t always determine what is most at risk in your home. Contaminated water can ruin your things or require intensive cleaning. It might also compromise the integrity of your home, so it’s best to deal with and rectify any water damage once you notice it.
There are three categories of water you should watch out for. Clean water isn’t a huge worry — neither is gray water in most cases, since it entails the water left behind after a shower or a leaky roof. Blackwater is water that has touched sewage and has a higher likelihood of carrying pathogens that can make you sick or lead to diseases.
Other Kinds of Damage
Of course, those damages aren’t the only kind you may encounter as a homeowner. While you can’t stop natural disasters, you can at least prepare and know what to expect from each kind of destruction.
Some other kinds of damage you may encounter include:
Your home insurance policy will usually protect you against these damages. Still, you should strive to familiarize yourself with the details before a crisis happens so you know what to expect. Reviewing your policy should also tell you how much damage is covered and whether the repair is substantial or minor.
What to Do When Restoring Your Home
Repairing your home may be challenging, depending on how much damage it sustained and how much you can do yourself. You may need to call a professional to help you handle some of the larger items and you should thoroughly rely on insurance whenever possible.
Some steps of this plan may be out of order in your situation. Fortunately, they can still create a rough guideline to help you through what might be a strenuous or emotional process.
Assess the Damage
One of the first things you’ll need to do is survey your home. You may want to put it off or not confront how the damage has affected your dwelling space, but you need to know everything you must fix and what insurance can do to help you. Take a complete walk throughout your home, paying attention to the inside and outside. Make sure to document everything with substantial evidence.
Notes with detailed descriptions will be your best friend throughout this process, as will photos. Create backups of your documents, whether in a cloud or on a flash drive. If you prefer to write your notes by hand, digitize them by taking pictures or transferring them to a word processor on a hard drive when possible.
Clean What You Can
After you’ve finished documenting everything, try to clean up the things you can. You may not be able to move large debris by yourself, but you could pick up the scraps and small parts you can’t use again or rescue. Try not to put yourself in danger during this process — some things are better off left to a professional.
Call in a Pro
When you assess the mess in your home, you may notice there will be some things you can’t tackle yourself. If you notice electrical work is an issue, you’ll want to call in a pro immediately, as one mistake can lead to severe or fatal injuries if you don’t know what you’re doing. Enlisting the help of a professional can bring you peace of mind and ensure your home will be back to normal before you know it.
You may have to hire more than one person to help you, especially if you have a combination of damages that can spell danger for your household. For example, you may want to hire a professional who deals with contaminated water if there’s blackwater left in your home, but an electrician can handle dangerous live wires.
Contact Your Insurance
Only about 5% of households filed an insurance claim in 2021, despite their premiums going up from 2019 to 2020. Rely on insurance when you can — it can help you make repairs and possibly upgrade some damaged areas so you don’t have to take the financial burden entirely on yourself.
Document everything, including every step of the process. You’ll want to keep these notes and photos around in case the adjusters need to see them. You can review your policy to see what’s covered and file a claim once you’re ready.
Plan for Rebuilding
A strong plan will help you see your goals through and ensure they’re completed on time. Create a road map of how you’d like to restore your home after damage, including the time frame you want to work through. Then, you can begin hiring contractors to help you rebuild.
You can find professionals through your insurance or your own research. Ensure you double check the person’s credentials or get reviews from people you know.
Plan for Damages as You See Fit
While it’s scary to think about your house experiencing so much damage, it will pay off to prepare. However, avoid falling into anxiety about everything that could happen and focus on what’s common in your area. For example, if you get tornadoes but haven’t experienced any blackwater flooding, you’ll know where to focus your attention and can plan more for tornado damage.
In addition, consider making hard copies of your damage mitigation plans and filing them away with your other household notes. That way, you’ll be prepared for anything that comes your way.