Weather patterns can change quickly, and, as evidenced by last week's weather, so can your chances of being flooded out of your home. Such unforeseen changes in atmospheric conditions can affect thousands of homeowners.Rains will eventually cause roof leaks, wear out exterior paints and siding, affect the foundation, and so on, but heavy rains can cause destructive floods. Then all types of fly-by-night contractors and door-to-door scam artists are very eager to capitalize on the misfortunes of decent people.
You can't prevent a flood, and sometimes you won't see it coming. Last year, according to the National Flood Insurance Program, "two of three federal disasters were flood related, and 25% of all flood claims came from areas no one considered high risk."
We saw such flooding here in San Antonio, and many homeowners in the city will now need to rebuild or at least remodel their damaged homes. However, during such emergencies, these homeowners should seek a strategy and follow a process to reduce risks and to protect and rebuild their biggest investment.
During such distress times, all kinds of contractors can come out of the woods. Be careful whom you decide upon to repair or rebuild your home. Avoid those who call themselves "flood damage experts or professionals," and steer clear of any who are running "neighborhood" or "door-to-door" specials. Also, be careful of those who solicit your business by phone or claim they were "just passing by." You should choose a contractor to work on your damaged home in the same way you would choose one for any remodel job, with research and careful consideration.
Carefully checking out a remodeler to repair your home may take a little time. If last week's floods damaged your home, or if you ever find yourself in such a situation in the future, there are some immediate things you can do to put you on your way to recovery.
- Contact your homeowner's insurance agency as soon as possible and inform them about your damages.
- Contact the local police and fire departments about what you should do before moving building materials, debris, etc.
- Call your utility companies for specific emergency information.
- Listen to the local news for flood information and for information on federally funded money.
There are also some measures you can take to protect yourself when you go to get your home repaired:
- Call the Consumer Information Center at 1-800-878-3256 or visit their web site at www.pueblo.gsa.gov to receive the free publication #574E, "Repairing your Flooded Home."
- Call the Texas Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-621-0508 to check an unknown contractor wanting your business. Visit their web site at www.oag.state.tx.us for more information.
- Call the National Flood Insurance Program at 1-888-CALL-FLOOD, ext. 154, or visit their web site at www.fema.gov/nfip to get an information packet on federal flood insurance.
- Get more than one estimate. DO NOT sign any contracts in your home or the contractor's office.
- Don't be pressured. Allow enough time to select a good contractor to fill your needs. Ask your lender or contractor about your rights concerning any waiting period other than the federal three-day waiting period.
- Get references from past customers, check them out by calling them.
- Visit the National Association of the Remodeling
Industry web site at
www.remodeltoday.com for a ton of information.
Hopefully this information will help you in rebuilding your biggest investment. None of this is intended to be legal advice. For specific legal advice and representation, contact your attorney.
Rudy Niño of SA Building and Remodeling, Co., is a member of the Greater San Antonio Builders Association Remodelors' Council.
Rudy Nino is a CGR Certified Graduate Remodeler by NAHB University of Housing, Washington DC. Past GSABA - Remodelors' Council President for the past two-consecutive years. Remodeler of the Year for the past four-consecutive years by the Remodelors' Council. Code Plus Remodeler by APA Engineered Wood Association. Member of the City of San Antonio' Home Improvement Advisory Board Since 1998.