After a natural disaster, fire or flood, cleaning up and repairing the damage can seem overwhelming. If there was a fire, it’s also likely there is damage from the water used to put it out. If there is water damage, it could lead to mold. Other household systems, like electric and plumbing and the building’s structure can also be affected.
We talked to Larry Chenworth, regional director of sales and marketing for Belfor Property Restoration, for some insight into the process of dealing with the aftermath of a disaster and what homeowners and property owners should consider before hiring a property restoration company.
Long & Foster: In what types of situations do people typically need emergency restoration services?
Larry Chenworth: Emergency restoration services are the result of some type of emergency damage – like water damage or fire damage. It could be from a flood or from structural damage due to wind or storms. Homeowners should seek safety first after an emergency, but their next call should be to their insurance company so their carrier knows about the incident and then to emergency property restoration service providers. Even if the homeowner chooses not to file a claim, their insurance carrier can often provide recommendations for service providers who can help.
L&F: How does homeowners insurance fit into the picture of emergency restoration?
Chenworth: In most cases, these are insurable events, so the services are mostly covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy. To help speed along the process, homeowners need to engage their insurance company as soon as possible. Expediting the conversation between their insurance company and the restoration company they choose and making the space accessible to service professionals are two more ways they can help.
L&F: What questions should a homeowner ask before choosing an emergency restoration service to work with?
Chenworth: They should ask about the company’s license, insurance and certifications, and verify that it’s an insurance-based restoration company. Both the company and their staff should have the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, which is an industry standard that all of us live up to.
Homeowners should ask for previous customer references, including past projects with similar losses to their own. When asked, the company should be able to provide an idea of what their normal turnaround time is for reconstruction. Additionally, you want to know that the company is financially solid and can work on your home for 30, 60, 90 days or more before receiving payment from the insurance company.
L&F: What else should a homeowner consider?
Chenworth: If an individual has asset collections that includes things like fine art, a library with custom wood finishes or an in-home server, they want to ensure the company they work with can make sure those items are properly dried, cleaned, stabilized and accounted for, and that they can restore them appropriately.
Additionally, many companies focus their capabilities on the emergency services aspect of restoration and are less focused on reconstruction. It’s important to know what your needs are and that the company you hire has the ability to properly address those needs.