The Importance of Choosing an Experienced Contractor
When a disaster strikes your property, it eats away your budget fast. On top of that, these situations typically are challenging to resolve yourself.
You have to outsource them to a professional. However, that is a whole level of expertise in doing it right while not being ripped off. Let’s show you how.
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Hire a Reputable & Experienced Restoration Company
Choosing the right restoration company can be overwhelming when faced with a disaster like a fire’s aftermath. One of the most important factors to consider is the company’s experience.
An experienced fire restoration company in your area must have the training to handle any situation. They will know how to assess the damage, prioritize the restoration process, and work efficiently to restore your property to its pre-loss condition.
Experience also means the company has a proven successful fire restoration track record. They will have the equipment and techniques to handle any damage, from smoke and soot removal to water damage restoration.
Choosing an inexperienced company can lead to further damage and longer restoration times. They may not have the proper training or equipment to handle the job effectively, which can result in additional costs and stress for you.
When choosing a contractor, such as a fire restoration company, ask about their experience. Do the research and ensure the company you hire can provide a portfolio of past projects. Check out what their past clients say about them. It is as easy as a Google search. If they do not appear, that is probably the quickest red flag for you to identify.
It’s often the case that many companies are RCINOs or restoration companies in name only.
Ask them if they can provide certifications and licenses if they do not have a platform to show them in the first place. Another factor would be to see how long they’ve been in the industry. The more fire damage, smoke, or water damage projects a contractor has completed, the more likely they are to do a good job.
Don’t take chances with your property and belongings after a disaster. Choose a contractor to ensure a successful restoration and peace of mind.
Make Sure Your Contractor is Insured
As a rule of thumb, virtually all contractors who know how to fix fire, water, storm, or mold damage will be insured. That is the industry norm. To a customer like yourself, it demonstrates that the contractor is committed to guaranteeing the safety and protection of his customers and staff during these projects because many uncertainties can occur.
Those range from financial volatility to secondary repairs. Being insured gives you peace of mind, as you can rest assured of where your money and time are going during this stage.
What Happens if You Hire an Uninsured Contractor?
One of the most pertinent pieces of advice from this blog concerns the consequences of hiring an uninsured restoration company.
First, there is a high likelihood of those workers hurting themselves on the job. If uninsured, they can sue you! Typically, these uninsured companies charge at lower rates. By cutting corners on one, you may pay more in hindsight because they’ll want your money for compensation if injured.
Another factor is the possibility of making mistakes on the reparations. They could leave you high and dry by not correcting the extra damage they might cause when restoring your home from a fire. Therefore, the lesson learned here is to make sure the restoration company is insured!
Avoid Using Remodelers or Construction Companies
Contractors known for remodeling may not always be the best option for restoration projects. These specialists do not know the ins and outs of restoration jobs and insurance providers. Insurance companies are essential arbiters per se when processing claims for damages that a residential or commercial property incurs.
Additionally, contractors who build new homes or remodel them do not have the knowledge that comes with certifications and experience in damage cleanup. Some of those proficiency levels involve knowledge of using particular equipment or credentials, as is the case for smoke odor removal and water mitigation.
Be Familiar with the Insurance Policy & Circumstance You Are In
As a homeowner, you are responsible for disclosing any loss to the insurance company and providing the necessary documentation to process the claim. You will need an estimate from a restoration company that meets the insurance company’s requirements. Often, this means that the forecast is created with estimating software.
If the estimate format does not meet the insurance company’s standards, it may not be accepted, and you do not want the risk passed to you.
Don’t Cut Corners When Charged Service Fees
Some homeowners prefer DIY jobs since they don’t cost anything. Avoid that as it can worsen the situation or be more dangerous. Failure to treat water damage properly can leave the water unresolved or exacerbate the problem. Working with unlicensed professionals is risky because it can cause liability if something goes wrong.
Asking For Endorsements and Referrals From Other People
It is advisable to consult other people who have worked with potential water damage restoration firms. These people can help you identify companies that overprice their services fees or render lousy services.
Being Strict About Licenses
You should hire contractors with appropriate training and accredited by an organization such as IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning & Restoration Certification). Check the company’s websites to determine if its employees have business permits and licenses.
It also doesn’t hurt to include professional certification cards and any involvement in local business groups such as BNI (Business Network International) or if they are involved in the community’s chamber of commerce. That “giving back to the community” attitude is what one should strive to look for in a restoration contractor.
Inquire As Much As Possible
Questioning involves conducting an interview, whether via phone, face-to-face, or web chat. It would definitely help if you asked questions that are relevant to the job at hand. That’ll help you know the time to complete the job and the number of personnel dispatched to your property.
Comparing Different Contractors
Avoid going for the first company that presents its services. Compare service fees and capabilities with other companies or contractors. Comparing the services offered by various companies can help you save money and choose the best provider.
Tell Your Insurance Provider
After a disaster, you should contact the insurance carriers covering your property damage. That way, damage assessments can be done right away. These companies can give you all the information necessary about local restoration companies. Frequently, you can filter out the most proactive ones.
Be mindful that even with all the options your insurance carrier provides you, you still have the opportunity to pick whom you contract. You are the client who has to pay for their service. Furthermore, make your money work for you by very selectively vetting & supervising their restoration contractors.
Identify Certified Restoration Companies
Since disaster cleanup and restoration require specialized processes, working with companies that meet professional certification training, licensing, and other standards is best. A great resource to consider for verifying the credentials of the contractors you hire is the directory on IICRC’s website.
One gold nugget to consider is asking the contractor if they are specifically trained to deal with the damage your home received from a disaster. IICRC has a myriad of certification options that include some of the following:
Mold Removal Specialist
Odor Control Technician
Carpet Cleaning and Replacement
Stone and Tile Cleaning
Master Fire, Smoke & Water Restorer
House Cleaning Technician
Resilient Floor Maintenance Technician
Fire and Smoke Damage Restoration Technician
Check Their Response-Time
Restoration professionals should always arrive at the scene of the flood or fire incident right after the firefighters. After all, these specialists are in business to clean up the mess ASAP to avoid any snowball effects that can cause further damage. One key aspect to consider is a 24 hours 7, day operation. Another is for them to provide an immediate response to your call. Lastly, ensure they can send out a team immediately to your location to check for damages to get started.
Make Sure Their Companies Have References
To check whether a contractor is reputable, consider who has recommended them. Although quantity is crucial, see how much of a qualitative review their past clients have given.
Also, ask any of your friends for recommendable contractors. If no one you know has any in mind, ask for research on Google. A few places to look at are their Google My Business, LinkedIn or other social media platforms, or directory sites like Angie’s List.
Whether you discover new companies to hire or decide not to proceed with one contractor because their reviews raised a red flag, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain from doing your research.
Map Out the Costs and Timeline
Any cleanup job comes with a hefty cost. Simultaneously, you would not want to cut corners. Nevertheless, companies will know that homeowners must find every detail relating to price.
Therefore, have a walk-through with restoration specialists. Allow them to inspect the areas of interest to see if they need to be fixed. Sometimes, it is not so apparent, as damages can often be hidden. This will require photos and discussions to get the ball rolling.
Note to self: Verify that the estimate they ask for covers everything. No hidden fees hijack you, such as materials and dumping fees or expenses you would incur for living somewhere else while the restoration process occurs. If a job goes through when the contract is provided, look closely to see if the timeline is congruent with what was discussed.
Extract the Details of their Pack-Out Process
Pack-outs are a restoration or cleanup industry-standard best practice procedure that involves moving damaged or removing damaged property, such as equipment or personal belongings, to another location for restoration.
Typically, this consists of the specialist determining to what extent those things are damaged and if they can be restored. Please be aware that restoration companies have third-party firms that handle that procedure. Some companies have portable containers or storage units. Double-check that they are secured and can be accessed at any time.
See If Restoration Company Helps You Through the Insurance Claim Process
Even though many customers who hire restoration services do it for the first time, this is not true for the contractors or companies you hire. After countless jobs, they should be well-versed with all the procedures necessary to file and track claims in detail.
Keep Your Eyes Out for Hackers
Like anything, a snake-oil salesman is out there looking to squeeze money out of you. Known as “storm chasers,” these scammers have been growing.
Takeaways on What to Know Before Hiring a Restoration Contractor:
Hire a Reputable & Experienced Restoration Company
Avoid Using Construction Companies or a Cleaning Service
Work with An Insured Restoration Company
Find One Familiar Working with Insurance Providers
- Sometimes, these “storm chasers” will be brazen enough to be at your front door when your home is damaged. Therefore, turn them away, mainly because legit restoration companies are there to serve you and help you with your most significant need without pushing you to buy their services.
No Need to Pay in Cash Upfront:
- Although it is tough to avoid the initial deposit, many firms require it on their first day of work, and paying it in cash is unnecessary. Instead, checks or credit cards work.
- Contractors are not required to wait until their work is completed to pay the final amount.
PLEASE INVEST INTO THIS AND NOT CUT CORNERS ON COST:
- One of the essential takeaways from this blog is not always to look for the cheaper option, as you may pay more or end up kicking yourself in the teeth in the short or long term.