Losing a home to wildfire is one of the most devastating experiences imaginable. Our Santa Rosa builders at Annadel Builders Inc., have witnessed this loss up close and we have helped many of our community members rebuild after fire in Sonoma County. We’ve also spoken with members of our community who have chosen the restoration route where fire impact is less extensive. Figuring out those first steps, including whether your home is a candidate for restoration, can be the hardest part. Here are some simple steps you can take to begin the process.
- Have the damage inspected by a third-party, licensed professional. In addition to the insurance-assigned adjustor, hire a third-party licensed contractor or structural engineer to evaluate the extent of fire damage on your property. This ensures you have an independent voice weighing in on construction and restoration costs, giving you the best shot at a fair insurance reimbursement.
- Decide if you want to restore or rebuild. Following a damage assessment, the adjuster may recommend demolition as the more affordable option. While it is certainly not required that you follow the adjuster’s recommendation, it’s worth noting that unexpected costs and problems tend to crop up the further you get into the restoration process. Should you decide to demolish, many of the following recommendations for structural protection will not apply.
- If restoring, clear away major damage. It’s important to have a restoration team inspect your property promptly as smoke and ash can cause further corrosion, staining, and odor permeation the longer they remain. Start with a room-to-room clean-up, removing damaged drywall, burned window casing, and charred flooring.
- If restoring, use tarp and sealing to protect interiors. Cover carpets and rugs with towels, rags, or plastic lining to prevent further soot and foot traffic damage. Address immediate damage concerns such as holes in the ceiling or water leaking from a burst pipe.
- If restoring, change your furnace and AC filters. Promptly change your furnace and AC filters before your home’s HVAC system has a chance to spread soot throughout your home. Instead, cover vents with clean towels or cheesecloth.
- If restoring, air your home out. Open all windows in the house to allow smoke and pollutants to escape.
- In a restoration: Avoid touching anything. As tempting as it may be, you’ll want to leave salvaging most of your damaged possessions to a trained professional. Restoration teams are trained to deodorize and restore carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture, etc.
- In a restoration: Don’t use any electrical appliances. While some electronics may have withstood fire damage, it’s important that you not attempt to use them soon after the fire has occurred as water or soot damage may cause them to short out. First, unplug all appliances. Next, thoroughly clean any oily residue left by smoke damage and allow them to dry. Luckily, personal electronics such as tablets, iPads, cellphones, laptops, and external hard drives or flash drives tend to have a high rate of recovery if treated carefully. Larger electronics, such as servers, printers, copiers, TVs, and refrigerators, unfortunately tend to not do as well. In both cases it’s worth considering hiring a restoration specialty company.
If you have questions about a rebuild, our team of local Sonoma County builders is here to work with you, answer your questions, and walk you through the process. We specialize in fire rebuilds and we are here to help. You’re not alone. Let Annadel Builders, Inc. get you home again.