Do’s & Don’t’s of Hiring Contractors
When a disaster strikes your property, it is essentially a blow to your largest investment. Unfortunately, this is something that you worked so hard on to achieve but disasters such as fire or mold can take away from you at the snap of a finger. On top of that, these situations can never be done yourself. You have to outsource them to professional. However, that is a whole level of expertise in it of itself.
Make Sure Your Contractor is Insured
As a rule of thumb, virtually all contractors that know how to fix fire, water, or 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 ensuring the safety and protection of his customers and staff during these projects that come with lots of uncertainty ranging from financial volatilities to secondary repairs. This assurance is there to give you a peace of mind that during this entire stage you can be rest assured of where your money and time is going towards.
What Happens if you do Hire an Uninsured Contractor?
Probably one of the most pertinent pieces of advice to know from this blog are the consequences of hiring an uninsured restoration company. First off, there is a high likelihood that those workers will end up 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 end up paying 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 in not correcting the extra damage they might cause when restoring your home from a fire. Therefore, the heart of the lesson is to make sure the restoration company is insured!
Avoid Using Remodelors or Construction Companies
Contractors that are known for remodeling may not always be the best option for restoration projects. As a matter of fact, these specialists do not know the ins and outs that come with restoration jobs and insurance providers. Insurance companies are important 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 levels of proficiency involve the knowledge in using particular equipment or credentials as is the case for smoke odor removal and water mitigation.
Hire a Reputable & Experienced Restoration Company
It’s often the case that many companies are RCINOs or restoration companies in name only. Do the research and make sure that the company you hire can provide a portfolio or past projects. Check out what their past clients say about them. It is as easy as a Google search. If they do not appear, then that is probably the quickest red flag for you to identify.
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.
What to know before Hiring a Restoration Contractor:
Be Familiar with the Insurance Policy and Circumstance You Are In
As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to disclose any loss to the insurance company and provide the necessary documentation required 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 estimate is created with estimating software.
If the estimate format does not meet the insurance company standards, it may not accept it, which you will not want to risk to the homeowner.
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 further. Working with unlicensed professionals is also 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 who have appropriate training and are accredited by an organization such as IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning & Restoration Certification). It is essential to check the company’s websites to find out of its employees have business permits and licenses. It doesn’t hurt to also include professional certification cards as well as 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.
Questioning involves conducting an interview, whether via phone, face-to-face, or webchat. It would definitely help if you asked questions that are relevant to water damage. 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. It is important to compare its 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 strikes, you should first reach out to 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, it’s best to work with companies that meet professional certification training, licensing, and other standards. 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:
- Odor Control Technician
- Mold Removal Specialist
- Carpet Cleaning and Replacement
- Stone and Tile Cleaning
- House Cleaning Technician
- Master Fire, Smoke & Water Restorer
- 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 at a residence as the firefighters. After all, these specialists are in business to clean up 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, make sure they can send out a team right away to your location to check for damages to get started.
Make Sure Their Companies Have References
To check whether a contractor is reputable or not, and look at who has recommended them. Although quantity is essential, it is vital to 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 & will require photos as well as discussions to get the ball rolling. Note to self is to verify that the estimate they ask for covers everything. No hidden fees hijack you, such as materials and dumping fees or expenses you would have to incur for living somewhere else while the restoration process occurs. if a job ends up going through, when provided the contract, look at it 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 getting rid of 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 Thru the Insurance Claim Process
Even though many customers who hire restoration services do it for the first time, it is not the case 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, there is a snake-oil salesman out there looking to squeeze money out of you. Known as “storm chasers,” these scammers have been growing in numbers. IICRC has all of the resources to flag these bad actors for you with the following clues that can help you weed them out right away:
- Avoid Fakes: 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 at your most significant need without pushing you to buy their services.
- Check With Governing Boards: As already harped on, contact the IICRC website or call 844-464-4272 to verify that they are experienced and have credentials to back up their claims for delivering in their profession & provide references of previous jobs.
- No need to pay in cash upfront: Although it is tough to avoid the initial deposit that many firms require on their first day of work, it is not necessary to pay it in cash. Instead, check or credit cards work. However, if they do not require that 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 to not always look for the cheaper option as you may pay more or end up kicking yourself in the teeth in the short or long-term.