Restoration Company or Contractor/Repairman

Raleigh, NC  –  Headlines have done little to make real for most of us what devastation, loss of life and economic livelihoods have occurred because of these disasters.

Serendipity Drive - Tornado Damage - Raleigh North Carolina
storm damage from April 16th tornado in Raleigh NC

It is hard for me to recall a time in my adult life that so many natural disasters have occurred in such a compressed period of time. To me it seems like it began with the Japan earthquakes and tsunamis resulting in the reactor melt downs and now with the flood waters on the Mississippi Delta.

On April 15th and 16th it hit a closer to home literally in my neighborhood when a fast moving storm system raged from St. Louis to Virginia leaving 45 dead.

When it arrived in North Carolina on April 16th it was moving at 65 miles per hour and in a matter of just a few minutes it was over leaving two dozen dead, 800 homes and business destroyed and thousands to try to make sense of what had happened. A mere 11 days later another tornado storm system rampaged across Alabama leaving the official death toll in its wake standing at 238.

I almost wish the destruction caused by the tornado were more wide-spread  Raleigh Tornado Survivor.

Two weeks ago over adult beverages with a friend of mine at the Cardinal Club  in Downtown Raleigh and perched 29 floors above the ground and with a nearly unobstructed view of Raleigh I was struck by the blue tarp covered roofs. My companion that day was a homeowner in the fashionable Mordecai  historic  neighborhood and she had a different perspective because her home was one of the blue tarp roofs that could be seen from that vantage point.

What she said to me was striking and it has been etched in my mind ever since and has helped inspire me to write about this.

Comments

  1. Terry-
    I am not sure to whom you are referring but I will assume it is me since it was part of my advice that you seem to reference in your, somewhat, confrontational post. In the future you may want to check the grammar on the opening paragraph of a post in which you are attacking another’s knowledge. “Advise” is the verb form of what, I assume, you meant: “advice”.

    Terry asks: “Would you advise your property owners not to allow an out of state catastrophe adjuster from their insurance company or even an out of state independent adjuster to inspect their property?”

    In a perfect world my advice would be; “yes”. If a property owner was given a choice I would certainly recommend a local adjuster over an out of state adjuster every time. Among other things, codes and construction methods can vary wildly from state to state.

    In the real world this would be confrontational to an adjuster so my advice would be; no. Furthermore, since a property owner does not get to pick and choose their adjuster this really is a moot point anyway. They do, however, have the right to choose their contractor.

    I would hope that no reputable restoration contractor would ever put a customer on standby for 8 months. In this scenario, however, common sense should prevail and left with a choice between the ‘long term wait’ vs. a ‘reputable out-of-state contractor’ the choice should be obvious.

    I happen to agree with your point regarding restoration companies handling projects like this much better than other contractors that change their model on-the-fly to capture this business. As a restoration contractor and licensed adjuster myself, I preach this very point often.

    I think what you failed to notice was that the article’s main point was directed at fly-by-night contractors that also happened to be out of state. I think the broad point of my advice therein had more of a “shop local” vibe to it. Similar to the “Buy American” philosophy shared by many, I advise that buying local has its advantages to the consumer.

    Despite the tone, I am thankful for your post because it gave me the opportunity to point out that although shopping locally is advisable there should always be a “buy local only when practical” caveat.

  2. You are speaking as though you are an expert on the subject of repairing widespread storm damage after a catastrophic weather event however your advise shows your overall lack of knowledge that is common among those handing out such advise.

    Let me ask you: Would you advise your property owners not to allow an out of state catastrophe adjuster from their insurance company or even an out of state independent adjuster to inspect their property? After a large weather event such as the one you are dispensing your so called advise on, the area will be inundated with such adjusters. Why? because there are not enough in the area on a permanent basis to cover all the damage.

    The same is true of contractors. In some cases local contractors are known to schedule repairs up to 8 months away due to the high volume of work after a storm. So there are companies that send crews to local areas to help. These companies send knowledgeable inspectors and insurance claims experts that help property owners know what their rights are and to identify covered damages.

    Many are of the opinion that property owners are in much better hands with a restoration company with actual experience and expertise in handling insurance claims than a local contractor who suddenly starts advertising that he too is an “insurance claims expert”. As you can tell, I work for such a company. And every day we work with homeowners who have hired such a local contractor only to have their claim denied or underpaid, and eventually call us and get a comprehensive settlement agreed to and end up with satisfactory indemnification.

  3. 1.) A home owner’s packet can vary from Job to job but the most important piece is the Contractor Contact info, this is made clear by the previous post:

    “Had we not been able to speak with the contractor, I have no doubt that my Buyers would have terminated the contract, and the Seller would have been back-pedaling all the way to the start line.”

    We also tend to include scopes of work, before & after pictures, certificates of completion, Insurance documentation, and warranty information among other items.

    2.) I would defer this question to Mr. Cobos. If you do discover a tried and true method please let me know. We have tried many ways and have no one way that seems to speed up the process but we have discovered many ways to slow it down (unfortunately).

    3.) Not sure where. Most people avoid this very complicated topic because of its tendency to have no absolutes. I recommend those that have offered their advice here but there are very few things that get as complicated as the relationship between all the materially interested parties in a property claim or in a property claim itself, for that matter.

    So what has happened, worked, or not worked for one may not be the case for another individual. Please feel free to call me anytime and I would be happy to discuss our experiences in this regard.

  4. To Jonathan Atkins – 3 questions:

    (1) what is the “homeowners packet” given to prove work that was done.

    (2) what are the best steps to get a mortgage company to endorse a check made out to them, the home owner & a restoration company? (I am the restoration company).

    (3) Where can I go to get more information on this subject?

    Barbara Owen

  5. Great post, Ricardo. And good advice, Kim. It’s important up front to get in writing what the contractor will do. It is just so sad to see all the damage that was done. Hard to imagine it because it wasn’t so widespread, until you see it in person.

  6. Construction defects can be very expensive to rectify and can have a negative affect on the value of a home and/or the ability to resell it. A few of the difficult to fix issues stem from, among others, an improperly built or repaired foundation. A home’s foundation can withstand many lifetimes of use if correctly constructed. However, if built poorly or substantial damage has been done, a foundation can be the source of problems affecting the stability of the home and, ultimately, the homeowner’s investment. Other areas to keep an eye out for are design defects. An example of design defects are, structures with a roof that results in poor drainage, inadequate structural support, or allows water penetration. All of which are very common with storm damage. Product defects occur when substandard building materials are used and/or cause damage to the structure. An example of the use of substandard building materials would be leaking windows even though they have been properly installed.
    Construction defects usually occur from poor craftsmanship that is not performed in a professional qualified manner, which is acceptable within the industry. These situations often occur after major storms. Unqualified individuals frequently surface to capitalize on the misfortune of others resulting in far more structural damage than which was actually sustained.
    To insure you and your investment are protected, check the individual or company’s credentials, insurance and obtain a time frame (which should be in writing) prior to any work and question if the company will stand behind their workmanship and product installation.

  7. As with all work being done homeowners affected should ensure they are using a licensed contractor. Get referrals from work they previously have completed.Real Estate agents owe it to their clients to expand on the “Due Diligence” by paying close attention to the “Residential Property Disclosure and “Insurance Availibilty” documentation. Both Buyer Agents and Listing agents need to be certain the have all the information to aide their clients for their decision making.

  8. I recently assisted a Buyer in the purchase of their first home. The home was delicious, even down to the brand new hardwood floors. After I advised my Buyers to obtain a Home Owners Insurance policy, it was discovered that an insurance claim was made due to an overflowing toilet which went unnoticed for a few weeks.

    Feeling nervous, we insisted on finding out the name of the restoration company who performed the repairs. We were eventually able to speak with the contractor rep who fully disclosed everything that was done to make the home whole again.

    Had we not been able to speak with the contractor, I have no doubt that my Buyers would have terminated the contract, and the Seller would have been back-peddaling all the way to the start line.

    Insurance claims leave a mark on the CLUE report, and Buyers will always find out. Just yet another reason to make absolutely positive that you find and hire a reputable repair contractor who will still be around when it is time to sell your home.

  9. Jonathan Atkins :

    The more important consideration occurs if one goes to sell the home. When disclosure is given to the buyer one must be able to prove that the work was done properly. A good restoration company will supply a homeowners packet to prove just that.

    In these uncertain and litigious times, if it were me I would want to know that when it comes time to sell that home that I would be able to prove positive “beyond a shadow of a doubt” if you will that the home was restored to it’s pre-claim state and that no short cuts were taken!

  10. John Huber :

    Be careful when buying homes that have sustained tornado damage. Make sure the due diligence period is adequate enough to ensure that any repairs will be dealt with by the insurance company.

    Wow those are some great thoughts about the “Due Diligence” which is new the the North Carolina Real Estate Contract this year. I wonder if most people buying homes here in Raleigh fully understand the Due Diligence portion of the contract. Do I see a post coming from you one that in the near future?

  11. Great piece… really interesting to hear the direct thoughts of someone that experienced the storm in its full effect. I’ve been working with numerous clients that are looking in downtown and east Raleigh and I’m amazed at the damage that is done. I also have numerous friends in construction that are extremely busy making repairs. Be careful when buying homes that have sustained tornado damage. Make sure the due diligence period is adequate enough to ensure that any repairs will be dealt with by the insurance company.

  12. This is a very good question. Unfortunately it is often one that has many answers depending on the individual circumstance, adjuster assigned to the claim and the individual’s insurance company.

    At Restoration Experts we have seen where home owners have taken adjustment payments and completed the work themselves which is acceptable to most companies. One will probably not have the same potential regarding community outreach work done. Bringing in a restoration company after the fact to “complete” work is fine to do since the insurance company will only pay for what the restoration company can document and prove it did to the home or business. The only problem could arise if payment is sought for work the church or community provided.

    As a general rule an insured cannot be enriched by a claim and this teeters on that line. The more important consideration occurs if one goes to sell the home. When disclosure is given to the buyer one must be able to prove that the work was done properly. A good restoration company will supply a homeowners packet to prove just that.

  13. Our Farm Bureau adjustors handle volunteer help like those who handle repairs themselves. You would be reimbursed for your materials and an estimate of “labor” costs for you. Once a claim is closed, such as when you sign for the check, it is closed. Any further follow up is acknowledged to be the insured’s financial responsibility. Hope this answers your question.

  14. There is some great information here. Restoration contractors, versus Repairmen and contractors, is not something I’d seen spelled out this way before. What happens in the cases of people who have had volunteers come to help with repairs? I know of some people whose homes were damaged and members of their community and/or church helped fix the home. Can the homeowner then bring in a restoration company to do the infrared inspection and complete the job without penalty on the insurance claim?