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Dealing with unexpected damage to your home – whether it’s from water, fire, wind, or some other catastrophe – can be a scary, stressful, and costly process for anyone. Your home is your safe haven, and having a natural disaster or accident threaten that sense of security can be unsettling and emotionally draining.
Take a breath. You don’t have to deal with all this on your own. There are home restoration companies and professionals who specialize in cleaning up and putting the pieces back together. With the right help, you will get through this.
While time is of the essence, the restoration company you hire can mean the difference between a smooth recovery process or a total nightmare. To help you choose wisely, here are nine steps for finding, vetting, and hiring a qualified and reliable home restoration company that you can count on for the help you need.
NOTIFY YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY
Whether your home was hit by a natural disaster or an accidental fire or flood, your first step is to contact your insurance provider immediately for a damage assessment by an adjuster. Most insurance carriers can also provide information about qualified restoration companies in your area, especially those that can respond and start cleaning up quickly.
Be aware that even if your insurance company gave you a company’s name or even made an appointment for you, it’s your choice on who to hire. It’s also your job to vet the company and supervise their work, as well as your responsibility to pay their bill for work completed.
But after a major disaster, it can take precious time to even get through to your insurance company. Read on for more tips on finding qualified restoration companies.
2. IDENTIFY CERTIFIED RESTORATION COMPANIES
Since disaster clean-up and restoration requires specialized processes, it’s best to work with companies that meet training, licensing, and other standards required for professional certification. You can find certified professionals in your area by checking the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC) directory.
You should also ask about certification and training for handling the specific type of damage to your home. For example, the IICRC offers certification for a surprisingly long list of specialties, including:
• Carpet Cleaning and Replacement
• Stone and Tile Cleaning
• House Cleaning Technician
• Odor Control Technician
• Resilient Floor Maintenance Technician
• Fire and Smoke Damage Restoration Technician
• Master Fire and Smoke Restorer
3. CHECK THE COMPANY’S RESPONSE TIME
Restoration companies are like the first responders after homes have sustained significant damage from flood and fire, water damage, sewage backup, and other major events. The restoration company’s job is to clean up the mess and preserve and protect your home and belongings to avoid further damage. Look for companies that offer 24/7 operations and the ability for rapid response. When you call, confirm the company can send out a team quickly to your location to inspect the damage and get started.
4. MAKE SURE THE RESTORATION COMPANY IS LICENSED AND INSURED
Let’s say you hire a contractor who quotes a low rate, but is uninsured, and then a worker injures themselves on your property. They could sue you for compensation. Or, in fixing one problem they cause another. They could refuse to correct the additional damage, leaving you high and dry and potentially in a worse spot.
To protect yourself, make sure you’re hiring a licensed and insured home restoration company. That way, if anything goes awry, they’re protected, you’re protected, and everything is above board. Ask to see the company or individual’s business license, insurance certificate, and professional certification card, such as the IICRC.
5. ASK FOR REFERENCES
In addition to your insurance company’s recommendation and industry certification, it’s always important to ask for references — both to help identify a reputable contractor and to vet companies you’ve contacted. If no one you know personally has had restoration work, you could take to your local Nextdoor group and put the ask out to your neighbors. Research the company online and check feedback on user-review sites like Angie’s List and Yelp. In addition to finding prospective companies, you might receive feedback on who not to hire — also valuable information.