Case Study: Bulla Youth Center
A 5-alarm fire broke out in Downtown Raleigh after 10pm on March 16, 2017, destroying an apartment complex that was under construction and damaging 10 neighboring buildings which included the Bulla Youth Center, an Annex of the Edenton Street United Methodist Church. Embers from the fire burned through the roof and caused water damage to both floors of the 13,000 square foot building. PHC Restoration received a call the next morning from the church in need of help removing the water and drying out the building. PHC quickly responded, pulling technicians from other jobs and sending them with extractors and drying equipment to the site to start working. By the end of the first day, we had the water extracted, drying equipment in place and air scrubber and hydroxyls deodorizing the structure. Our quick action enabled us to be able to save the gym floor and save thousands of dollars in drying equipment/drying time. Our hard work and dedication allowed church services to resume in the building on March 26, 2017.
After the Disaster…The First 24 Hours
Informational brochure provided by the RIA, for more information visit www.restorationindustry.org (800) 272-7012
Insurance companies play an important role in protecting individuals from a total loss when a catastrophe occurs. However, in the chaos following a fire or water damage, insurance policies may be misinterpreted. Despite the turmoil and confusion, it is important to make wise decisions, because you will be living with the results long after the confusion has passed.
Your insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurance company. It entitles you to certain rights and imposes certain obligations. As professional restoration contractors, we believe that it is in your best interest to understand the rights and options available to you at the time.
The Restoration Industry Association (RIA) has compiled a list of 12 questions frequently asked by policyholders.
- What action does my insurance policy require after a loss? In addition to notifying your insurance carrier, most policies require that you take reasonable action to protect your property from further damage. If you fail to do so, your insurance may not cover any additional loss caused by your failure to provide such protection.
- If I have obtained adequate coverage, what should my insurance pay for? After a covered loss you are entitled to be paid the fair cost of restoring your home to its pre-damaged condition, minus your deductible. However, you should not expect to be paid for the repair of unrelated problems such as deterioration, pre-existing damage or code deficiencies.
- Must I hire a restoration company recommended by my insurance company? Your insurance policy does not state that you must retain a restoration company that is referred or approved by the insurance company. You are entitled to employ the services of a reputable, fully licensed and insured repair firm. If you do not employ such a firm, you may be responsible for the consequences and liability for injury, damage or other actions. This is true whether or not your insurance company recommended the firm.
- Am I required to use the restoration company with the lowest price? You are not required to accept the lowest bidder. Repair rates should correspond to prevailing standards in your area for work of professional quality, and you may not be forced to use the “cheapest” or “lowest price” bid. You are entitled to employ a firm with sufficient experience and stability in the community to stand behind its work and warranty.
- Can my insurance company hire a repair firm to work on my house? Only the owner of the property can authorize a company to perform work on that property. The repair contract is between the owner and the contractor. Your insurer does not have the right to directly contract for your repairs or insist that you employ a particular supplier or restoration firm.
- What quality of materials and workmanship am I entitled to receive? Your insurance policy should pay for materials and workmanship that are equal to the kind and quality of your existing ones. After repairs, the property should suffer no loss in value as a result of the damage. However, the insurance company is not obligated to improve your existing installation.
- How do disclosure rules affect my repairs? Under current laws you may have to disclose past damage to any future buyers, making it essential that all evidence of damage be completely eliminated. Damage that has been covered up may be discovered later and raise serious problems for the prior owner.
- What should my contract include? You are entitled to receive a detailed listing of the repairs, as well as the quantities and types of materials to be used before work begins. The specifications should be a part of your contract. Don’t accept thumbnail or “repair as necessary” specifications. The possibility of hidden damage or additional charges should be fully described at the outset.
- Is a special license required for insurance repairs? States have differing licensing requirements for home repairs. There are also local regulations and home improvement laws to be considered. Federal regulations also may apply to home repairs, such as rescission notices and special requirements for asbestos, lead and blood-borne pathogens. You are entitled to reject any contractor not in compliance with all federal, state and local requirements for residential construction. Ask an industry-qualified restoration contractor for this important information.
- How can I evaluate a restoration contractor? First, ask for references to three jobs the contractor is currently working on or has recently completed. Call them. Second, check with your local Better Business Bureau for any unresolved complaints. Third, ask the contractor for credentials and association memberships that indicate professional training and status in insurance repair and restoration, since this differs from ordinary home improvement or maintenance work. And finally, ask the restoration company about any relationship with the insurance company that may impede their ability to provide an independent evaluation of your damage.
- What if the insurance company and I cannot agree on the amount of the loss? If disagreement arises between you and the insurance company over the amount of the loss, you are entitled to request arbitration (“appraisal”) as described in your policy. The standard homeowners’ policy spells out the procedures for appraisal without resorting to a lawsuit. The insurance company may also request appraisal, which can be invoked at any time prior to final settlement, eve if you have already received advance payments.
- How long must I wait for my insurance payment? You are entitled to receive payment from the insurance company within the time specified by the policy and your stat insurance regulations. Usually this is 30 to 60 days after submittal of the signed proof of loss. However, the policy also has time requirements for the policyholder. Check your policy or ask your adjuster or agent about them so that you will know what to expect. Only you (the policyholder), can insist that your insurance company comply with its obligations under the policy. As professional restoration contractors, we recommend that you do so out of our strong conviction that good workmanship and ethical business practices benefit the insurance industry just as they benefit the public at large.
NOTE: This information is distributed for educational purposes only and is not intended to and should not be construed as providing legal advice.
Checklist of things to do immediately following a fire or flood:
- Get your family some place safe and secure.
- Contact the American Red Cross–www.redcross.org or your local chapter–they can supply temporary housing, clothing, food, medications, etc.
- Do not re-enter the building until declared safe by an emergency management official.
- When able to enter the premises, remove valuables such as jewelry, medication (for replacement purposes only), clothing and important papers (e.g., birth certificates, marriage license, passports, credit cards, social security information, wills, insurance policies, driver’s license, stocks & bonds, income tax records, mortgage papers & deeds). Do not remove food or cosmetics.
- Secure the building to prevent further damage from weather or vandalism–e.g., screw plywood over windows, place tarps over open roof areas.
- Shut off main water, gas and electricity supplies.
- Contact your insurance company.
- Select a service provider. Be sure to check references.
- Get a notebook to record dates and times of conversations and individuals you speak with concerning your claim.
- Save all receipts for meals, hotels, toiletries, replacement clothing, etc.
Fire and Smoke Restoration
Why call a restoration company instead of a builder to repair damages following a fire in your home?
The Institute of Inspection Cleaning Restoration Certifications (IICRC) is a certification and standard-setting non-profit organization for the inspection, cleaning and restoration industries. On their website, https://iicrc.org, they give the following overview as to why you would need to contact a restoration professional:
Professional restoration technicians have the understanding for quick response. They know that immediate remediation is important because the longer the property owner delays remediation, the higher the cost of restoration becomes. Certified restoration professionals have the training and knowledge to test the damaged materials and then to apply the proper restoration technique required to return the property to pre-loss condition.
They recommend the following the considered when selecting a certified restoration firm:
- Up-to-date specialized training
- Certifications in both health and safety
- Experience in a range of restoration projects
- Proof of proper insurance and licenses
RIA Offers Tips for After the Tornadoes and Storms
As North Carolina and much of the Southern United States continues to rebuild following the horrific tornadoes that affected the area and as the area starts to prepare for the start of Hurricane Season, the RIA has these tips for homeowners following a storm loss:
- notify your insurance company of the loss
- take photos of each room for future reference and insurance claims. This will provide a digital inventory of some visible contents.
- wear heavy rubber gloves or work gloves and thick soled shoes, preferably not tennis shoes since there can be exposed nails, glass and other sharp objects
- remove standing water from flat surfaces by sponging and blotting
- open windows to ventilate the area. Open drawers and cabinets for interior drying but don’t force them open
- homeowners with appropriate insurance coverage may hire any restoration company they choose and are not limited to only those suggested by an insurer
Author: Patricia L. Harman
Date Published: 05/04/2011 www.restorationindustry.org
PROTECTING YOUR WATER PIPES FROM FREEZING WEATHER
Freezing temperatures can sneak up on homeowners in the South and can lead to some serious problems to unprepared water pipes. As we head deeper into the winter months, here are a few tips to help prepare your home and protect your pipes:
- Seal openings where cold air can reach unprotected water pipes
- Leave cabinet doors open under kitchen and bathroom sinks in order to circulate warmer room air around the pipes
- Let faucets drip slowly to keep water flowing to help prevent pressure from building up in the pipes
- Insulate pipes in attics and crawl spaces
- Exterior pipes need to be drained or enclosed in insulation
- Leave your heat on at least 55° F if you are away from home for any length of time
Lead-based Paint Hazard Management
Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body over a period of months or years. Lead interferes with a variety of body processes and even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems. Children under the age of 6 are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect mental and physical development causing potentially permanent learning and behavior disorders. At very high levels, lead poisoning can be fatal.
Because the most common sources of lead poisoning in children are lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust from older buildings, North Carolina adopted the North Carolina Lead-Based Paint Hazard Management Program for Renovation, Repair and Painting effective January 1, 2010. This general statute requires certification for renovators, dust sampling technicians, and firms conducting renovation, repair, and painting activities for compensation that disturb lead-based paint in housing or child-occupied facilities built before 1978 (NC General Statute 10A N.C.A.C. 41C .0900).