A Guide to Cleaning Up After a House Fire
Cleaning up after a house fire and going through the aftermath is a daunting and emotional process. It’s crucial that you ensure the property is safe before going back inside. Upon reentering the residence, you will want to document all damages by taking photos of all damaged materials and contents. Be sure and take notes on what can be cleaned and repaired and call in professional assistance immediately. Starting the cleanup process after a fire loss can be overwhelming not to mention the array of emotions you’re undoubtedly going through, but that’s how this guide can help.
This guide will help you on your road to recovery and will cover a lot of what you need to know about the restoration process ahead of you. Whether you had a small house fire or a total loss, the road may not be easy, but with the right knowledge, tools, and professional assistance, you can reclaim your piece of mind and rebuild your home.
“The road may not be easy, but with the right knowledge, tools, and professional assistance, you can reclaim your sense of home.”
A house fire is a freighting experience that no one ever wants to encounter, and one of the toughest parts about recovering from a house fire is deciding what you can salvage and what you must throw away. It’s heartbreaking to discard damaged items with sentimental value, and it feels like a waste of money to dump food exposed to smoke. However, in the event of a fire at your residence, it’s not only important, but absolutely imperative to make sure you take certain actions. Your family’s safety is of the utmost importance and should be your main priority in this circumstance. Contacting the appropriate authorities, professionals and insurance providers is another essential step, and finally, finding the optimal Michigan Fire restoration Company who will help you begin the cleanup and rebuild process.
Hiring a Fire Restoration Services Contractor
Take Your Time When Choosing A Restoration Contractor, Do Your Homework.
Some insurance companies will offer to refer you to a preferred vendor network to restore your home, which is ok but, remember they work on the behalf of the insurance company. Research your option online for restoration contractors that work on your behalf. Check them out on the BBB, read reviews and go see some work that they have done on homes with the same damage as yours. Remember your home is one of the biggest investments that anyone will ever make, and when you need to restore it after a disaster it’s important that you are working with the most qualified restoration contractor possible.
The restoration process is a marathon not a sprint. It could take up to a year in some cases to complete a project
Tip #1: Do Not Choose a Family Member or Friend in the Construction Business
We’ve all heard the horror stories about someone who hired their handy father-in-law or a cousin with some construction experience to clean-up the damage after a flooded basement, or try to clean up soot after a fire and it turned out to be a disaster. It is never a good idea to try to save money and cut corners by hiring a friend or family member to clean-up after a disaster or make building repairs. This will always harm the relationship and costs more time and money in the long run. Contact The Professionals At Select Restoration.
Tip #2: Do Not Choose the builder of Your Home or Building
Licensed general contractors and construction companies here in Michigan who mostly build new construction and do home improvements do not have adequate insurance restoration experience. They lack the equipment, experience and certified training required to perform fire & water damage restoration services here in Michigan. Also, they do not understand the proper methods for reconstruction and repairs under these unique conditions after a disaster.
Tip #3: Do Not Hire a Contractor Who Has Little, or No Experience Working With Insurance Companies. General Contractor Vs. Restoration Contractor
As the insurance policy holder, it is your responsibility to disclose any loss to the insurance company and provide all the necessary documentation required to process the claim. You will need a detailed estimate from a certified restoration company that meets the strict insurance company guidelines, created using the specific estimating software xactimate. If the estimate format does not meet the insurance company standards, it may be rejected or you could lose out on thousands of dollars left on the table by a contractor that does not know how to negotiate an insurance claim.
Tip #4: Hire a Local 24/7 Emergency Response Company
When disaster strikes you can’t wait on a call-back when you need immediate help. Make sure you choose a restoration business with administrative staff on call and certified field technicians available 24/7. Fast response time and efficient project completion are important, so location counts. You want to work with a property restoration company that can quickly take care of jobs in the city and the suburbs too.
When finalizing choices for a local restoration company, get to know key personnel. Speak with several representatives so that you have a real sense of how the business operates from day to day. During the course of a project, restoration teams working on client properties stand as your representatives. You want administrative and technical personnel on the job who answer questions, calm concerns and act as trusted, knowledgeable liaisons between you and the insurance company.
Years of experience and extensive training are required to be a certified restoration contractor here in Michigan. Select Restoration has over 25 years of in business property restoration experience and meets all the insurance company requirements. We specialize in maximizing insurance claim’s for property damage here in Michigan. Insurance companies count on errors made by property owners and contractors so they don’t have to pay the full settlement.
Fire Restoration Tips / Cleaning Up After The Fire.
When Fire Damage Strikes Your Michigan Property, lives are suddenly turned upside down. Most often, the hardest dealing with a Fire Loss is not knowing where to begin and who to contact. (YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT SPOT)
The U.S. Fire Administration has gathered the following information to assist you in this time of need. Action on some of the suggestions will need to be taken immediately. Some actions may be needed in the future while others will be on going. The purpose of this information is to give you the assistance needed to assist you as you begin rebuilding your life. Call one of our certified licensed specialists today to help you maneuver through this rough time, and get you on “YOUR ROAD TO RECOVERY”
- After the Fire: Returning to Normal This booklet provides information on recovering from a fire, including what to do during the first 24 hours, insurance considerations, valuing your property, replacement of valuable documents, salvage hints, fire department operations, and more.
- After the Fire: Returning to Normal (Spanish)
Contact your insurance company or agent right away.
Ask your agent these questions:
- What to do about the immediate needs of your home. This includes pumping out water and covering doors, windows, and other openings.
- What you should do first. Some companies may ask you to make a list of everything that was damaged by the fire. They will ask you to describe these in detail and say how much you paid for the items.
Be careful when you return home.
If your home had a home fire sprinkler system, you will find little damage from flames, heat, smoke, and water. If not, and you plan to rebuild your home, now is the time to think about installing sprinklers into your home! Talk with the owner about it if you are a renter. You can find more information at the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition’s website: www.hfsc.org
Frequently asked questions about fire department actions
- Q. Why did they break windows and cut holes in the roof?
- A. As a fire burns, it moves up and down and across, growing very fast. Breaking windows and cutting holes in the roof is called ventilation. This slows the fire’s growth. It helps get rid of dark smoke that makes it hard for firefighters to see where they are going. It helps them fight the fire more quickly. In the end, ventilation can help save lives and property.
- Q. Why do firefighters cut holes in walls?
- A. This is done so that the fire department is sure that the fire is completely out and that there is no fire left inside the walls or in other hidden places.
- Q. How can I get a copy of the fire report?
- A. In most areas, a fire report is a public document. Ask for it at the fire department or fire marshal’s office. The fire report will help you with information that you
- Do not enter a damaged home or apartment unless the fire department says it is safe to go in! Fires can start again even if they appear to be out.
- Watch for damage caused by the fire. Roofs and floors may be damaged and could fall down.
- The fire department will make sure that the utility services (water, electricity, and gas) are safe to use. If they are not safe, firefighters will disconnect them before they leave the site. Do not try to turn them back on yourself.
- Soot and dirty water left behind may contain things that could make you sick. Do not eat, drink, or breathe in anything that has been near the fire’s flames, smoke, soot, or water used to put the fire out.
Cleaning and restoring personal items / What is Salvageable.
There are companies that are experts in cleaning and/or restoring your personal items. Whether you or your insurer buys this type of service, be clear on who will pay for it. Be sure to ask for an estimate of cost for the work and agree to it in writing. Ask your insurance company for names of companies you can trust to do a good job at a fair price. These companies provide services that include some or all of the following:
- securing your home against more damage;
- estimating damage;
- repairing damage;
- estimating the cost to repair or renew items of personal property;
- storing household items;
- hiring cleaning or repair subcontractors; and
- storing repaired items until needed.
Organizing finances and replacing vital documents.
- Get in touch with your landlord or mortgage lender as soon as possible.
- Contact your credit card company to report credit cards lost in the fire and request replacements.
- Save all receipts for any money you spend. These receipts are important in showing the insurance company what money you have spent concerning your fire loss. This will also help prove you bought things you may want to claim on your income tax forms.
- How to replace vital documents (for example, bank records, driver’s license, passport, Social Security card, tax returns)
- How to replace U.S. savings bonds
After a House Fire Checklist
- Contact your local disaster relief service, such as the Red Cross. They will help you find a place to stay for awhile and find food, medicines, and other important things.
- If you have insurance, contact your insurance company. Ask what you should do to keep your home safe until it is repaired. Find out how they want you to make a list of things that were lost or damaged in the fire. Ask who you should talk to about cleaning up the mess. If you are not insured, try contacting community groups for aid and assistance.
- Check with the fire department to make sure your home is safe to enter. Be very careful when you go inside. Floors and walls may not be as safe as they look.
- The fire department will tell you if your utilities (water, electricity, and gas) are safe to use. If not, they will shut these off before they leave. DO NOT try to turn them back on by yourself. This could be very dangerous.
- Contact your landlord or mortgage company about the fire.
- Try to find valuable documents and records. See the information in this brochure about how to get new copies if you need them.
- If you leave your home, call the local police department to let them know the site will be vacant.
- Begin saving receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and to prove any losses claimed on your income tax.
- Check with an accountant or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about special benefits for people recovering from fire loss.