Austin Fire Damage Restoration
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), local fire departments responded to an estimated 1.3 million fires across the United States.
This means a lot of people had an experience they will never forget. Many had to go through the process of fire damage restoration for the first time.
Fire damage restoration itself is the science of fire-damaged structure restoration. There are five basic steps in the fire damage restoration process.
Done correctly, these five steps can restore an eligible property to its pre-fire condition.
Not surprisingly, fire damage restoration requires advanced techniques to deal with all the different elements of fire that can damage a structure. Smoke, heat, water, gaseous fumes, soot, debris and other issues must be thoroughly addressed and resolved.
In this guide, learn everything you should know about fire damage restoration to be sure the job you need done gets done right the first time.
Austin Fire Damage Restoration Pros - Our Five Basic Steps of Fire Damage Restoration
While there are five basic steps to take in any fire damage restoration project, as you will see, these steps are anything but basic.
Some of these steps can take weeks if not months to complete. The extent of the damage determines the extent of the remediation and restoration needs.
Here are the five steps that must be followed in order to ensure success with a fire damage remediation and restoration project.
1. Assessment of the damage done
The first step is important for two key reasons. First, it is important to assess the fire-damaged structure to decide on the right strategy. In some cases, the structure may be beyond what a remediation and restoration project can tackle.
If this is the case, razing and rebuilding may end up being a safer as well as a more economical option.
In other cases, it may be possible to completely remediate and restore the structure without a complete rebuild. In the event this is possible, assessment will drive the strategy used to remediate and restore the property.
The assessment phase investigates the damage from every angle, including the contents of the structure and their condition. A thorough and meticulous assessment is vital to develop the project's scope of work and the cost estimate.
2. Security set in place and removal of damaged materials
A fire damaged property is an unsafe property for the duration of the restoration project. Failure to properly secure the space against vandals, vagrants and even neighborhood kids may result in insurance liability.
As well, if only one section of the structure was damaged by the fire, it will be important to install a secure barrier between that part and the undamaged part of the structure.
This will help contain the scope of work and keep inclement weather from causing damage to the still-viable areas of the property.
After the property has been properly secured from the general public and the fire-damaged portion has been quarantined from the rest of the structure, the next phase of this step is to remove the debris left over from the fire.
This can be delicate, specialized work. It is important to remove and dispose of fire-damaged materials properly and in compliance with local waster removal and disposal regulations.
3. Now it is on to demolition, mitigation and remediation
One thing most people don't immediately realize is that fire damage nearly always goes hand-in-hand with water damage. So any time there is a fire damage restoration project, that project nearly always includes water damage.
Depending on how long the property has been left in a damaged state, there may also be mildew or mould remediation to deal with. What many homeowners don't realize is that a fire damaged structure can start to develop mold within one 24-hour period following the fire. The risk only increases in humid climates.
So this stage is really a threefold process. The first step is to demolish non-viable structures and remove the debris. The next step is to mitigate potentially viable structures that have sustained fire or water damage.
And the third step is to remediate any of these structures that have evidence of mildew or mould damage. Only once all three of these actions have been taken is it possible to move on to step four.
"Cleaning" sounds deceptively simple. But really it is an intense, strenuous and often lengthy process. The property must be cleaned, deodorized and sanitized.
This can be very dirty work. It can also be time-intensive work requiring specialized sensors, fans, heaters, drying and air cleaning equipment.
Often a variety of commercial cleaning techniques are required to remove smoke, ash, soot, odor, fungal or bacterial microbes, stains and discoloration and more. Each of these types of damage requires its own specialized cleaning process.
If the duct work is salvageable, these must also be cleaned, deodorized and sanitized.
There is no doubt that the restoration phase is the most satisfying part of the fire damage restoration process. This is when the fire-damaged structure starts to look (and feel and smell) like it did before the fire occurred.
However, this can also be the most complicated part of the process. It is not always possible to detect the full extent of the fire damage until the restoration phase begins.
Working from the initial scope of work and cost estimate, work crews may encounter surprises when they actually get in to start repairing or rebuilding parts of the fire-damaged structure.
Areas that appeared to be salvageable may not actually be and this can change the timeline and budget for the full restoration project.
As well, there may be changes to the local building codes since the structure was originally built that necessitate upgrades to electrical wiring, HVAC, plumbing and sewage, remediation of hazardous building materials (asbestos and lead paint are common issues for older fire-damaged structures) and similar issues.
Insurance Issues When Conducting Austin Fire Damage Restoration
For most homeowners, a big part of the fire damage restoration process involves working with their homeowners insurance provider.
The learning curve here can be as steep as for the remediation and renovation process itself.
The insurance company will require the homeowner to provide accurate documentation, complete required forms, submit cost estimates for remediation and repairs and work with insurance adjusters and appraisers to gain approval to start the project.
Here is just a basic overview of the types of general paperwork insurance providers typically ask for when processing approvals for fire damage restoration claims:
Experienced fire damage restoration providers know how to work with homeowner insurance providers to expedite the claims submission and repair approval process. This can be especially vital when you or loved ones have been injured in the fire and your attention is required elsewhere.
Relocation Needs During a Fire Damage Restoration Project
One of the first questions many homeowners have after a fire incident is whether they can move back into the home while it is being cleaned, repaired, remediated and restored.
This is always going to depend on the extent of the damage as well as the details of the homeowner insurance policy.
If only a portion of the structure has been damaged in the fire and that part can be sealed off from the rest of the house, then it may be possible to move back in even while the whole renovation process is going on.
However, in many cases it becomes necessary to relocate while the home is being restored. There may also be safety issues to consider when deciding whether to move back in or find a temporary place to live until the project is complete.
For example, if there is a suspected or confirmed mold issue or if any of the utility lines may have been damaged, it is always going to be safer to live elsewhere until the renovation crews have had a chance to thoroughly assess and clean the damaged areas.
This can be a very emotionally as well as financially taxing decision, especially when both options exist (live in the house during renovation or temporarily relocate).
Why Work With Our Austin Fire Damage Restoration Company?
Fire damage restoration is definitely a science. But it can also be an art. It is not enough to know and use the latest cutting edge remediation and cleaning technology.
Much of the structural renovation and restoration process involves people working with people - in this case, the restoration company working with your homeowner's insurance company.
It can really help to choose a knowledgable, experienced fire restoration company that knows how to work with insurers to provide the right documentation up front that can expedite repair approvals.
This is especially vital in the case of fire damage restoration, since mold can set in so quickly and actually increase the cost of future repairs and remediation. The faster the restoration project begins, the more economical it is likely to be in terms of claims payouts.
The restoration company can also guide you through essential first and next steps that you might not otherwise know you need to do.
For example, you might not realize you need to contact the local police department to let them know your property has been in a fire and will be unoccupied. You may not know what to do to arrange for temporary housing or mail forwarding. But an experienced fire damage restoration company will be able to guide you through these steps.
How to Select Your Austin Fire Damage Restoration Company
The first big challenge on your plate after tending to any immediate medical needs and opening an insurance claim will be to select the company that will oversee the remediation, cleaning, sanitizing and restoration of your fire-damaged structure.
You may not have any idea where to start or what questions to ask to interview possible providers. Here is what to look for to choose the best provider for your needs.
There is no substitute for having the right certifications to do the job that needs to be done.
For the initial water and fire damage remediation, the contractor should have one or more certifications with the IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification).
Additional certifications may be required based on your local building codes or specialized remediation needs.
The provider should be able to show proof of accurate commercial business and liability insurance. Work crews should be licensed and bonded.
Appropriate work experience
Fire damage restoration is a highly specialized and fast-evolving field. The provider you select should specialize in fire damage restoration rather than offer it as a sub-menu item alongside their main area of service.
Check the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and local independent review sites such as Yelp to find out how past customers feel about their experiences. The internet makes it easy to discover whether the company actually lives up to the glowing reviews posted on their own website.
Last but definitely not least, you want to make sure that your insurance company is willing to approve the company to work on your remediation and restoration project. Different insurers may have their own internal requirements for which companies can be approved to work on fire damage restoration projects.
Going through the experience of a home fire is guaranteed to cause you stress, heartache and upheaval. Choosing a qualified and compassionate fire damage restoration provider can help expedite the restoration process to get you back into your home and on with your life as fast as possible.