Home fires happen all the time, but with the recent wildfires in California and elsewhere in the Southwest, a growing number of homeowners are grappling with fire damage. Unlike some forms of property damage, though, repairing a residence after a fire can take months, and it shouldn’t be undertaken by non-professionals, starting with determining the extent of the damage. Unfortunately, the professionals will likely see a growing number of such jobs in the coming years, even as new construction relies on improved fire-resistance standards and updated building codes.
Evacuation And Evaluation
The first step in the post-fire recovery process is really an extension of the initial emergency – evacuating the space. Though it’s standard to move out of any home during renovations, it’s distinctly unsafe to live in a fire-damaged structure. Such buildings may be structurally unsound, may develop mold from water exposure, and are often coated in toxic chemicals sued to extinguish the flames. This is in addition to the smoke imbuing every surface.
In the rush of initial evacuation, most people are unable to grab important items, including identification, money, and family heirlooms, and it’s understandable that you might want to recover some of those items. Before doing so, however, check with the fire department to find out whether it’s safe to go inside. If it isn’t, emergency services will have information on how you can replace important documents and other necessities. Once you’ve removed items, as possible, the experts can begin evaluating the space.
In addition to their skill in rehabilitating fire-damaged residences, restoration professionals can help you get back to your normal life by working with insurance companies to estimate damages and process claims – and this work is almost as vital as the physical renovations. After all, in the days and weeks after the fire, most victims are in a haze, and struggle to determine what’s covered, find a place to stay, and find a qualified contractor to handle the repairs. For those affected by the recent wildfires, this pressure can be even worse as entire towns were wiped out and the residents displaced.
Once they’ve consulted with your insurance, your restoration specialists can begin working on the home. Though some homeowners take on tasks like washing the walls and ceilings and cleaning furniture on their own, professionals can strip and replace insulation and drywall, safely clear debris, and ash, and bring in appropriate specialists to evaluate and repair the electrical system. Even where the drywall and insulation look fine, it’s important to allow professionals to assess the damage as these materials can’t be dried without compromising structural integrity. Wet insulation can also grow dangerous mold that will make residents sick, even if it’s hidden behind sheetrock.
Know The Risks
At every step of the restoration process, it’s important to know the risks associated with fire-damaged buildings, such as inhalation of particles and soot, exposure to chemicals, and structural damages, which is why it’s always best to leave the repairs to the professionals. After all, despite the expenses, you can replace and repair anything lost in the fire, but you may not be able to repair your health after toxic exposures. A house fire is stressful enough without compromising your health in an attempt to reclaim your life. Give it time – the professionals will put the pieces back together.