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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.

Rebuilding and Renovating a Damaged Home

Any form of construction can be a lengthy process. Here are some tips to get started.

Have any tips of your own? E-mail us.

Should I Rebuild?

There are several things to consider when deciding to rebuild or not:

  • Assess the amount of damage to your home
  • Determine if your home is still structurally sound
  • Estimate the cost of rebuilding.

Read through the following information to help guide you to a decision.

How to Estimate Rebuilding Costs

What it will cost to rebuild — For a quick estimate of the amount to rebuild your home, multiply the local building costs per square foot by the total square footage of your house.

Where to get building rates — Consult your local builders association or real estate appraiser.

What factors that determine the cost to rebuild your home:

  • Local construction costs
  • Square footage
  • Type of exterior wall construction - frame, masonry, or veneer
  • Style of the house (split-level, colonial, ranch)
  • Number of bathrooms and other rooms
  • Roof type
  • Attached garages, fireplaces, trim and special features

If you plan to rebuild, begin calling building contractors to come to your house to provide bids. Read our article How to Choose a Contractor or Restorer for starter tips and advice on the hiring process.

What To Do Before the Signing the Contract

WHN Staff Tip: Limited Contractor Resources
There may be a limited availability of contractors, builders, and building supplies depending on the extent of the storm and subsequent events.

Get three bids on all parts of project.

Create a budget and stick to it, tracking costs on a spreadsheet program or notebook.

When discussing payment schedule, don't accept this answer: "need it at the end." Ask for exact time frames for different phases.

Find out about local building codes and ordinances.

Design for function—think about how you live and what your future needs are. If you may need more electrical service or wiring, communication cables, plumbing or heating duct work, add it now.

When looking at plans, measure out each room so you know its size.

WHN Tip: Attend Go to real estate open houses and measure the rooms, then compare them to your plans.

Plan ahead to avoid too many change orders.

Take steps to reduce your risk of future storm-related damage. Mitigation includes any activities that prevent an emergency, reduce the chance of an emergency happening, or lessen the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies, such as installing lightning rods to carry the electrical charge of lightning bolts safely to the ground.

Pick out appliances, fixtures, tile as soon as possible and check ship dates against installation dates.

Allow only the insurance adjuster and the roofer you have selected to get up on your roof. Each time someone walks on it, more damage can occur.

Be sure roofers have workers compensation and liability insurance. If they don't, you may be held liable if one of the workers is injured or if they damage a neighbor's property.

Don't make final payments to the roofing company until your roof has been inspected by the city and you are satisfied.

Don't let the builder rush you or demand last-minute decisions.

During Construction

Visit site once a day or every other day and take pictures of progress.

Paint colors on sheetrock, identify with room, tint name and brand, and store in closet or attic. When you need paint years later, you will have a sample.

Look at paint in the morning, midday and evening light to make sure it looks right.

Take pictures of interior before plastering or installing plasterboard to make it easier to locate wiring and plumbing.

Give architect and builder instructions and change-orders in writing.

Make changes when the house is framed—after that, it's more expensive.

Keep trash bags, work gloves, mosquito spray, camera, notebook and pens, and old shoes in your car for when you visit the work site.

Insist that the work site is clean, and the area and structure are secured from trespassers.

Before insulation is added or walls finished, check all plugs and switches to make sure they're where they're supposed to be.

When making decisions, compare initial purchase/ installation costs versus repair/ maintenance costs.

Consider hiring an independent inspector to look at the work.

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.