Steps to Building Reconstruction After Catastrophic Fire Damage

Even when a fire isn’t catastrophic, it can still be very dangerous. Fire is a leading cause of death in America, more than natural disasters. Sadly, homes and businesses have become more susceptible to fires because of the presence of more flammable materials. Regardless of how big or small a structure is; the aftermath of a fire can be devastating.

Once the fire is out, it’s natural to wonder where to start with fire damage restoration. Before taking any action, try to keep a level head. This way, you can take the next steps calmly and with conscious deliberation.

The First Thing is to Contact Your Insurance Company

If you have an insurance cover on your property against fire, it’s in your best interest to contact the company immediately. Check with the company what your policy covers, as this determines the compensation amount you get. Most policies will compensate you an amount equivalent to the value of the building before the damage.

An insurance adjuster will visit the property, take photos and videos, and assess the damage. If there is a total loss, the compensation may entail an amount for the building and its contents. It helps if you have photos of everything that was destroyed to act as proof to the insurance company. Some policies also cover the cost of demolishing the home.

To Rebuild or Demolish: The Cost

After inspecting the fire damage, the next thing is to decide whether to rebuild or demolish the building. Keep in mind that your insurance policy on the property may influence how you proceed. A total loss to you may not be the same to the insurance company.

If you decide to demolish the structure, the cost will depend on factors like:

  • The materials used to construct the structure
  • The size of the building
  • How much of the building is still standing
  • Your contractor
  • The geographic location

On average, you may spend anything between $8,800 and $9,800 to demolish a fire-damaged structure.

On the other hand, the cost of residential fire restoration depends on:

  • The extent of the damage
  • The extent of repairs required to restore the property
  • The number of rooms

These factors affect the cost of removing the debris and restoration of the building. On average, industry statistics estimate the costs to be approximately $4.70/sq.ft. While this is a rough estimate, consider other factors like the amount of chemicals required for the smoke, soot, and extinguishing chemicals. The range is typically between $3,000 and $30,000.

The Rebuilding Process

If you choose to rebuild your damaged property, have your property cleaned up to remove the fire debris. You can hire private contractors for this task.

Water Damage and Cleanup

After debris removal, contact a licensed septic evaluator to inspect the systems. If the inspector approves, you may continue using the existing septic system. If repairs are required, ensure you obtain a repair permit before you start the repair process.

Ensure you also remove any water from the property as soon as possible to prevent mold growth. Dehumidify the floors and carpets and have a professional get rid of the chemical extinguishers. You want to prevent your home from further damage caused by these toxic residues.

Soot Removal and Cleanup

Soot comes from completely burned materials and is a deposit of carbon particles. If it is not removed completely, it can pose a significant risk to human health. You should not leave soot to stay on surfaces for long as it becomes more difficult to remove.

The removal of this residue on surfaces depends on its type. Dry soot is easy to remove using dry sponge and a low-alkaline detergent. Oily soot only responds to high-alkali detergents and also requires a lot of water to rinse off. The HVAC system and air ducts also need thorough cleaning after soot removal.

Smoke Damage Cleanup

Smoke clings to surfaces but can easily be removed through traditional cleaning methods. However, it can seep into cracks, pores, and crevices, causing more damage with time. The smell of smoke also lingers if cleaning is not done correctly. Smoke is also toxic and can cause health issues and compromise the quality of electronic components.

Professional cleaning services can help get rid of trapped smoke through:

  • Thermal flogging
  • Ozone treatment

Before Rebuilding

Once the cleanup process is done, hire commercial fire restoration professionals to remodel the property for you. Architects, general contractors, engineers, landscape architects, and designers will come in handy at this point.

It’s also essential that you find out about the zoning regulations and research the permit history. This will let you know the structures that can be replaced when rebuilding. You may be able to get hold of the previous building plans to ensure the property is rebuilt correctly.

Check if you’re eligible for rebates and incentives, which can lower the costs of rebuilding. Consult all the relevant departments like water, fire, and electricity for plan approval. Once you submit your plans and obtain a building permit, you can start the reconstruction process. Remember to have all inspections done and incorporate preventive measures for the future.

Final Thoughts

Taking the next course of action after fire damage to your residential or commercial property can be confusing. The best place to begin is to contact the insurance company if your property is covered. Next, decide whether you want to rebuild or demolish. Whichever decision you make, look for a qualified construction professional to help you in each step of the process.

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