A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Cope with Property Damage


Unfortunately, disasters like fires, floods
and tornadoes strike individual homes, neighborhoods and entire communities in
the Midwest regularly.  If they ever
involve you and your family, it’s important for you not to make sudden
decisions related to extensive repairs before you’ve done your homework.  The information in this brochure has been
developed to help you get through the situation from
start to finish in a well thought-out way.


#1 – Stay Calm.

Once the dust settles, it’s important for you
to be strong and lead your family through this difficult time.  Seek out help and support from friends and
neighbors as soon as possible.  Don’t
make rash decisions under pressure.


#2 – Contact Your Insurance Agent BEFORE You Hire any Contractors.

Most agencies have a claims center that can be contacted by phone 24/7/365.  Seek out their help for next steps –
especially if professional help is needed for clean-up and repairs.  NEVER sign a contract for work from a
company that approached you after the incident without checking their
references.  Also, be sure you’re dealing
with a local, licensed, reputable business with the proper business insurance
coverage versus the first person that approaches you and offers to help. Be very
careful about paying any up-front deposits until you’re 100% sure the decision
to move forward with the selected contractor is the right one.  Southern Tier Home Builders & Remodelers
Association (www.sthbra.com)
maintains a searchable website list of all members. Some are listed in specific
categories related to storm/fire damage and repair. 


#3 – Secure
Your Property & Recover/Remove Valuables.

Even in these dark times, looters can make things worse.  If necessary, consider renting a storage unit
nearby or have a mobile storage unit brought to your site that you can
load.  If the damage is too great or the
area is too dangerous, seek the help of select professionals through
recommendations from your insurance agent, family members, friends, etc. Never
work with anyone that tries to pressure you or wants to be paid a big
percentage up-front.


#4 – Prevent Further Damage

It’s very important for you not to ignore structures that are repairable. Make a detailed sweep of your home/property
to make sure you can prevent additional damage from exposure to the
elements.  Consult with your insurance
agent to see if they have
specific recommendations or procedures. Tarps, ropes,
plywood and other items you may need can be purchased quickly at most discount
and hardware stores.  Again, it’s very
important to be safe and consider professional help if it’s needed at this


#5 – Make Informed Decisions Related to Repair Contracts & Costs.

Always be cautious when you’re vulnerable and
upset.  Don’t let the clock or someone
outside your circle of family and friends compromise your financial future.
Talk to recommended contractors and make sure they understand how to work with
your insurance company related to timelines, payments, etc.  Also, don’t be surprised if your basic
homeowners insurance isn’t enough to cover the actual costs for certain major
repairs. If you find yourself unable to make your home identical to what it
looked like before the damage, set a dollar amount to spend on quality repairs
that make sense for your financial situation. 
Doing so may require some tough design and style decisions.  However, don’t just choose the contractor
with the lowest price based on price alone. Be comfortable with the entire
scenario being proposed by each contractor you plan to hire.


#6 – Begin the Repairs.

By now, many crazy things have probably
happened.  For major repairs, it’s
possible that weeks or even months have gone by. Continue to be strong and work
with reputable people.  When you’re
working with hired contractors, you can do your part to keep the work flowing
by making selections in a timely manner for things like windows, doors,
shingles, siding, cabinets, plumbing/lighting fixtures, flooring, etc.  For more information on the building or
remodeling process, call Southern Tier Home Builders & Remodelers
Association, (607) 785-9285 or check our web site at www.sthbra.com