Facing restoration after enduring a house fire, flooding or mold mitigation can be overwhelming and arduous. Resuming life following such a destructive incident your family may feel vulnerable and it may never seem like your house will be the same. In the wake of such a disaster it’s crucial that you find a reliable and qualified restoration contractor to clean up the mess, rebuild and restore your home to its original grandeur. Finding a good honest disaster clean up and restoration contractor specially trained for such situations is vital. A restoration contractor is very different than a general contractor. For example, a restoration contractor should be very familiar with the insurance claims process and how insurance companies pay for repairs. They use estimating software similar to what adjuster and insurance companies use. Restoration contractors are also usually full service contractors. This means that they should be able to take care of temporary or emergency cleanup and board up. They should own the equipment for drying and water damage remediation and they are familiar with the kinds of damage that fires, wind and water do to different buildings. They should also be proficient in writing accurate estimates for these specific types of damages. A number of factors need to be taken into consideration when searching for your ideal basement remodeling contractor. Below are 8 tips toward finding a good, honest contractor.
1. Types of services offered by clean up and restoration contractors-
Fire and smoke damage restoration- A fire can result in complex damages due to the unique behavior of smoke. A trained professional needs to survey the site to determine the extent to which fire, smoke, heat and moisture impacted the building materials and contents. Hidden damage and odor results when smoke penetrates cavities of the structure. Professionals will be able to investigate how far smoke damage may have spread. Identifying the type of soot present at the site will also reveal what type of damage has occurred.
Water removal and dehumidification- Professionals will have the equipment and experience necessary to effectively dry, deodorize and disinfect areas flooded or damaged by water. Prepared with an array of hi-tech drying equipment, sanitizing agents, germicides and anti-microbial treatments, qualified restoration contractors will be able to efficiently remove water. They will also have vast knowledge regarding dehumidification and properly lowering moisture levels from your home.
Mold mitigation and remediation- Unwarranted amounts of mold may present health concerns to you and your family. Previous and untreated water damage can cause mold growth which is another good reason to have any water damage properly treated. Mold mitigation is a carefully regulated procedure and needs to be treated promptly and properly. Improper mold remediation can damage the resale value of your home.
Other services often include- catastrophic storm response; electronic equipment; document drying; contents claim inventory service; air duct and HVAC cleaning; biohazard, crime scene and vandalism clean up; carpet, upholstery, drape and blind clean up; ceiling, wall and hardwood floor clean up; and deodorization.
2. Search for a reputable contractor- Websites like goodhonestcontractor.com are devoted to matching people like you with their ideal contractor. You may also ask friends and other homeowners if they have any suggestions. A contractor's reputation among former clients is the best gauge of his or her work. It's also a good idea to look at the work a contractor has done for previous clients. If they have a website where you can look at projects they have completed, even better. Some unsavory individuals thrive in the misfortune of others, however. So beware of people who come to your doorstep offering you their services. Scammer may take your money for supplies and take off or some may actually do work for you but do a substandard job.
3. Set Appointments- Once you have picked a few companies that will work for you, take a little time and narrow the list down to two or three that seem like they will have the best deals. This will help you to keep your costs down. Set up appointments with at least two contractors in order to find the best contractor for you. Here are a few ideas of questions to ask a prospective contractor: Ask the same questions of each contractor so the comparisons are fair, and when you’ve narrowed it down to one or two, check their references thoroughly.
- How long has the company been in business?
- How early will work start in the mornings, and what time will workers leave each day?
- Who will be the contact person if I hire this company?
4. Conduct a thorough prospect check- Once you have narrowed down the list of potential candidates, it’s important to do your homework. Your contractor is going to be in your home and involved in a large financial investment so make sure to check them out thoroughly.
Gather References- A professional will easily give you a list of references and volunteer this information from the beginning of the process.
Call References- Call references directly and ask them the following questions:
- Would you use this contractor again if needed?
- Were you satisfied with the results? Was it easy communicating with the contractor?
- Were there any complications? If so, did the contractor respond promptly, was he courteous and did he charge you for any additional work?
- Was a designated foreman available to address your concerns? You want a point person for questions and concerns you have throughout the job.
5. Licensing and certification- The first thing to keep in mind with a potential contractor is if they have the appropriate certification. They should have licensing and certifications that they can show you as well as verify through the regulation boards. When they give you their resume and list of qualifications, it’s up to you to check each of these sources to see if they’re legitimate. You’ll also want to check with the BBB. Search the Better Business Bureau website at "http://www.bbb.org" to locate your local bureau. Enter the company’s name on the website to see if they are BBB accredited and if they have any complaints against them. Get in touch with your insurance company and government agencies like the American Red Cross to check on your contractor and verify that they have no previous record of fraud or complaints. Your restoration contractor should also have the insurance to cover any problems that might come up. Make sure that they have workers compensation and liability insurance. In the unlikely situation that something should occur on the jobsite, they need to be covered for the damages and losses. Ask if they are insured and if they have ever had to make any claims during a job assignment. Double check on their insurance policy before you agree to their services in order to know what is covered and what is not.
6. Get an estimate- Once you have found the fire restoration company that you want to work with, you will need to get an idea of what it’s going to cost you. They should be able to provide an accurate estimate with a complete rundown on what they will need to do, how long it will take and what the final costs will be. Estimates should be free and should be given to you in writing and include these essentials:
- The work to be done in detail
- The specific materials to be used
- A time frame for the work to be completed
- A firm price
7. Put it in writing- So you’ve chosen your contractor, but before you sign the final paperwork do a thorough inspection of the contract. It is wise to have a legal and fully notarized contract. Keep copies of records, receipts, and other related documents for future reference. If you have any questions, ask your contractor. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’ve already been through enough, this is your home and you need to make sure that you are getting the service that you need and deserve.