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After A DisasterSpotting and Documenting Storm DamageJust had a storm blow through your town? Here Stephen Hadhazi, a public insurance adjuster and publisher of DocuDamage.com, an educational consumer website, offers his top tips on how to spot and document storm damage.Securing a Damaged HomeHere's what to do to safeguard your home after a storm or disaster.Safely Reentering an Evacuated HomeBe safe, be smart. If you've been displaced, all you may be able to think about is getting back home. Wait!Replacing Valuable DocumentsHere is contact information for replacing documents and records that have been damaged, destroyed or lost.Rebuilding and Renovating a Damaged HomeAny form of construction can be a lengthy process. Here are some starter tips to get started. Moving Back Home After a DisasterWhile it's very difficult to do, think of this as an extremely extended camping trip as you cope over the next few weeks and months.How to Choose a Contractor or RestorerHiring a contractor or a restorer can be costly, but professionals may be the best way to remove water and mold and get the job done right. Plus, professional restorers can provide helpful hints to prevent further damage.Home Repair and Renovation Steps to FollowFollow these steps to make sure your post-disaster restoration or rebuilding project is done right the first time.Documenting Fire and Storm DamageIf possible, document the internal and external damage ASAP. Talk with recovery officials regarding safety issues you should be aware of - safety first! - as well as key areas/items you should take pictures of.Cleaning Your Home After a Fire or StormAfter your insurance company representative has assessed the damage, you need to make a decision regarding the cleaning of your home and possessions.Home Safety After a DisasterWhat to know about utility service after a disaster.

Home Repair and Renovation: Steps to Follow

Follow these steps to make sure your post-disaster restoration or rebuilding project is done right the first time.

WHN Tip: In many cases, waiting a few weeks (or months) to repair your car or house will cause no further damage, and prices are sometimes more reasonable after the initial rush is over. However, if the roof of your home is leaking or your car's windows are broken, repairs should be made as quickly as possible.

1. Contact Your Claims Adjuster

Do not have your home repaired or property replaced until both have been evaluated by a claims adjuster — an agent appointed by your insurance company.

If you are insured, ask your insurance agent to provide an exact list of the insurance will or won't cover in the rebuilding process. If you aren't sure, ask.

Also ask for a list of preferred vendors and ask if you need to hire from that list.

(For more information, read our article Working With a Claims Adjuster)

2. Contact Your Local Building Department

The building officials can let you know what the codes require and provide you with assistance so you make improvements properly the first time.

Find out what permits you need before you begin. According to the Better Business Bureau, the permits should be in the contractor's name so if the work doesn't pass inspection, you won't be held financially responsible for any corrections that must be made. Terms regarding the application of any permits should be outlined in the written contract.

 3. Get Repair Estimates

Insurance companies usually ask for several estimates. Make sure the estimates are for full repairs — not a patch-up job. You're entitled to have your home restored to its full glory.

4. Hire a Contractor or Restorer

Be sure to check qualifications and insurance coverage.

(Read How to Choose a Contractor or Restorer)

Review the proposal to make sure it has all the essential items. The Better Business Bureau recommends the following:

  • A thorough description of the work to be done, specifying all materials to be used in terms of quality, quantity, weight, color, size, brand name, etc.;
  • Agreed upon starting and completion dates;
  • Total cost, with a breakdown of labor and material charges and payment schedule;
  • Any warranties and guarantees of workmanship;
  • The method for debris and material removal once the job is finished; and
  • A clause which states your right to cancel the contract within three business days if you sign it in your home or at a location other than the contractor's permanent place of business. This clause should also state that the contract is null and void or will be renegotiated if the job uncovers unexpected or hidden problems or damage after work has begun.
  • The contractor's full name, address, telephone number
  • Professional license number

WHN Expert Tip: “Never sign a partial or blank contract. Read every contract clause carefully and ask any questions you may have before signing. Retain a copy of the contract once it is signed, and file it in your records.” Better Business Bureau

Keep the all bids, proposals, bills and receipts.

5. Start the Rebuilding Process

Be safe, be smart.

Read our article Rebuilding and Renovating a Damaged Home to learn more.

If you aren't available, designate a relative or friend to act as the spokesperson between the insurance company, construction crew, family and others involved in the rebuilding process.

Fully inspect the work before handing over the final payment. If outside inspectors are required, make sure they approve it as well.

After A DisasterSpotting and Documenting Storm DamageJust had a storm blow through your town? Here Stephen Hadhazi, a public insurance adjuster and publisher of DocuDamage.com, an educational consumer website, offers his top tips on how to spot and document storm damage.Securing a Damaged HomeHere's what to do to safeguard your home after a storm or disaster.Safely Reentering an Evacuated HomeBe safe, be smart. If you've been displaced, all you may be able to think about is getting back home. Wait!Replacing Valuable DocumentsHere is contact information for replacing documents and records that have been damaged, destroyed or lost.Rebuilding and Renovating a Damaged HomeAny form of construction can be a lengthy process. Here are some starter tips to get started. Moving Back Home After a DisasterWhile it's very difficult to do, think of this as an extremely extended camping trip as you cope over the next few weeks and months.How to Choose a Contractor or RestorerHiring a contractor or a restorer can be costly, but professionals may be the best way to remove water and mold and get the job done right. Plus, professional restorers can provide helpful hints to prevent further damage.Home Repair and Renovation Steps to FollowFollow these steps to make sure your post-disaster restoration or rebuilding project is done right the first time.Documenting Fire and Storm DamageIf possible, document the internal and external damage ASAP. Talk with recovery officials regarding safety issues you should be aware of - safety first! - as well as key areas/items you should take pictures of.Cleaning Your Home After a Fire or StormAfter your insurance company representative has assessed the damage, you need to make a decision regarding the cleaning of your home and possessions.Home Safety After a DisasterWhat to know about utility service after a disaster.