With so much destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey, there will be innumerable contractors combing the community soliciting your business. Here are some tips on what to look out for and how to manage the rebuilding process in your home.
• Check references or credentials. “Shady” contractors will look just like legitimate ones on the outside. Very friendly representatives, slick business cards and brochures, and a toll-free phone number don’t necessarily mean an honest business. If you don’t know anyone who “knows someone” then do some online research – check the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List and the local Chamber of Commerce. Yelp is also a good resource.
• Document EVERYTHING! Take pictures of every piece of damaged furniture, every item you have to throw out, every inch of sheetrock that needs to be removed BEFORE you move or trash it. This may seem tedious, but every article of clothing you have to get rid of, every book or small appliance, or whatever will count towards the replacement value your insurance company grants.
• Save every receipt and estimate you get. Pick up a clean notebook with lots of pockets and use it exclusively for your restoration projects. Divide up the notebook into segments based on the projects you have – i.e. floor replacement, roof repair, etc. Keep detailed notes with the dates and times of all phone conversations you have and the name of the person you spoke with.
• Once you have photographed and documented all of the damage, you do not need to wait for the insurance adjuster to begin cleaning up. With the amount of claims that will be filed in the Houston area, this will be a very, very long process, so file your claim as soon as you can to get to the front of the line.
• When removing sheetrock, clear out about a foot higher than the top of the flood line to ensure you’ve gotten everything. Wall boards will dry on their own. You can spray them with a bleach/water mixture after they are done drying to help prevent mold. Household fans, your air conditioner and time will get things dry, so you can save your money on industrial fans and fancy drying machines and use that cash towards the rebuild.
Good luck and be patient. Stay on your claims adjustor’s good side and help out your neighbor. Together, we will all get through this.