Getting back to normal after a fire damage
Whether a fire occurs in your home or business, the damage they cause can be physically and emotionally overwhelming. With the help of your insurance company and hired restoration contractor, getting back to normal after a fire damage can be a lot easier. In this blog, we will walk you through the steps toward recovery, common issues/events that come up post fire and talk a bit about the benefits of hiring an experienced fire restoration company to help with repairs.
The first step in the recovery process is to ensure the basic needs of those affected are being met. Often times after a fire, temporary housing is required until the home can be repaired. Most residential insurance policies cover these expenses under the Additional Living Expenses (ALE) portion of the policy. To arrange temporary housing, speak with your insurance company as almost all insurance companies have a 24/7 housing service that will find temporary housing, usually a hotel, within a few hours. Your insurance should be able to arrange housing and provide an allowance for the basic needs you will have.
Qualifying Items for Reimbursement Under the ALE
- Pet boarding fees
Notifying Your Insurance Provider
If you haven’t already, you will need to inform your insurance company that your home was damaged due to a fire. Your insurance company will need to know if anyone is injured, what was the cause of the fire, what areas are damaged, is the building able to be used, etc. It is not uncommon for insurance carriers to send their own fire investigator to determine what exactly caused the fire. The reason they do this is not to assign blame to the property owner, but instead to see if a third party such as an appliance or electronics manufacturer could be to blame. In all cases, it is wise to stay out of the property until cleared by the insurance company.
Securing Your Property
One of the first priorities after a fire damage is to ensure the property is secured. Often times the fire and the efforts to extinguish it will damage the roof, windows and doors. The damage to these will leave your home or business open to the elements and unwanted visitors. Securing the property may include: tarping the roof, boarding windows and/or doors, and placing ‘Do Not Enter’ signs throughout the property. The fire department or your restoration contractor will either be able to arrange for the building to be secured or will let you know who to contact. Securing your property is a cost that is almost always covered by the insurance company and experienced contractors will send the bill directly to the insurance carrier, taking one thing off your plate.
First Steps to Recovery
Once the property has been secured, its time to turn your attention to the recovery process. Mitigating future damage to the structure and your personal property inside is your next step. This is where an experienced restoration contractor like AmeriClean comes in. AmeriClean’s team of restoration professionals will remove damaged structural items and debris, provided emergency Pack-Out services, water damage cleanup, and arrange for temporary electric for the property.
One of the key components in this step is restoring your personal belongings. Companies like ours are able to inventory, transport, clean and deodorize your personal belongings and then store them in a secure location until your property is ready for them to be returned.
The Repair Process
Now that the property has been stabilized and it won’t get worse, it’s time to begin the process of restoring your property to its previous condition. While there are plenty of experienced home remodelers who do fantastic work in Northwest Indiana, we strongly recommend choosing a contractor who has previous experience restoring buildings after a fire.
The Difference In Working With Fire Damaged Experienced Contractors
- Know how to work with your insurance company
- Have experience in applying the most practical and efficient process for restoring a property after a fire
- Understand the varying factors that come into play when repairing a fire damaged property
Some of the varying factors that contractors will face during the repair process include: smoke odor removal, when to remove charred materials vs. when to clean and seal them, how to address affected mechanical systems, how to maximize repair dollars and plenty of other issues that arise when restoring a fire damaged building.
The biggest concern when using a contractor that is not familiar with fire restoration projects is their ability to remove all soot and properly treat the smoke odor. If soot or areas holding smoke odor are left untreated, there can be a lingering smoke odor for years to come. We cannot stress enough how important it is that your contractor is experienced in this field.
How Long Does the Recovery Process Take?
While no two fires are ever the same and the recovery process is always unique to the property, we can estimate the amount of time it takes to return to normal based on the amount of damage to the property.
Small House Fires
For small fires that cause little to no structural damage and instead cause smoke damage throughout, the restoration process can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. During this time, the structure and content are cleaned and deodorized onsite. It is not uncommon to also have some or all areas painted after cleaning is completed.
Moderate Sized House Fires
When there is moderate amount of structure damage (limited to a few areas, but no roof damage) the repairs can take a month to several months to complete. In situations like this, affected homeowners are typically living at another location and your personal belongings are stored offsite. For businesses, it may be necessary to setup a temporary location or implement alternative means for continuing work.
Large / Extensive House Fires
In situations where there is extensive damage and the repairs are more involved, the repairs can take anywhere from several months to many months to complete. During this time the vast majority of the property is being repaired and is not useable. Long-term housing or long-term business arrangements are required and insurance companies work closely with you to ensure your needs are being met.
Getting Back to Normal
Now that all of the repairs are completed and you are able to move back into your property, you will need to do things such as reactive phone/internet/cable, notify the post office and update your address (if changed0 and start getting back into a routine. While it may seem like getting back into your old routine sounds easy, its not uncommon for it to take several weeks or months for things to feel normal again. This is a completely normal experience that everyone who has been affected by a fire damage experiences. Just take it day-by-day and things will feel normal sooner than later.
One of the most important things that we want anyone who has been affected by fire or smoke damage to understand is that they are not alone. From the amazing first responders who put out the fire and make sure you are safe, to your insurance company and the restoration company who help you get things back to normal, you have tremendous resources to help you every step of the way. Initially the recovery process seems overwhelming, but when you surround yourself with the right people and companies, we promise you the process does not have to be overwhelming and it can even be a positive one.
Stay In Touch
If you have any questions about what to expect after a fire damage or how AmeriClean helps restore fire and smoke damaged homes and businesses across Northwest Indiana, we would be more than happy to assist however possible. Please feel free to contact our 24/7 Emergency Restoration Services division at 219-942-8100.