Storms can do a lot of damage and take a lot of work and time in cleanup. Everyone wants to have a happy customer and do a good job, but sometimes a contractor can be a bit too hasty with estimates, sacrificing accuracy. Damage estimates are a normal part of storm cleanup and essential for customers and insurance companies. The recent damages done by Hurricane Michael estimate to top $4.5 billion with a chance that the forecast can increase if there is any further flooding or heavy rain and winds. That number includes $1.5 billion to $3 billion in residential losses, with another $500 million to $1 billion in commercial losses. Storms are expected to get more severe over the years due to the shift in climate, making category 3 to 5 hurricanes a more common experience for those near the East or Gulf Coasts.
What Kind of Storm Damage to Expect
After a building is damaged by wind and hail, there might be immediate damage that you need to take care of overnight. Broken windows and any exposed area of the home need a temporary fix. You also need to remove glass, tree limbs, and other dangerous debris professionally. The damage you usually see after a big storm will include roof, window, and structural damage. Exterior damage to paint or siding, such as strips ripped entirely off, are also an issue. Documenting the work you do (or plan to do) with photos and smartphone/tablet apps both visually and in writing are essential in the modern age. You can always refer back to that documentation if there is a question about the final pricing. Repairs need to take place as quickly as possible, because water damage will spread, and pest or bug infestation is likely, even if you wait a week. Nature loves nothing better than a window of opportunity when it comes to damage like this.
Getting Started with Repairs (and Documenting Them)
Of course, if there are any downed power lines, problems with gas lines, or other immediate dangers, you need to contact the proper utility before you take action. But don’t wait more than a few days after the property owner calls you to begin drawing up an estimate. For some property owners, this damage is just the beginning. Hidden behind the walls can be mold, mildew, and structure damage that you can’t see that has an opportunity to grow. Some water damage is invisible, so it’s up to you to trace all the routes water is coming in and fix them. Any holes or cracks in the property should be sealed as well; otherwise, critters or bugs could get in. Diagnosing the damage correctly from the start can make you sure that you’re paid on time and have no surprises. Let the property owners know the risk of waiting to repair and that costs could increase substantially. Flood damage may increase if you don’t put in a mechanism (such as a sump pump or flood bearing walls) that mitigates flooding in the future.
Documenting the repairs needed and the repairs you make is important and can help you in the long-term as you work with more customers in the area. Often, wear and tear combine to create structural issues that aren’t seen until later down the road.
Next time you’re assessing storm damage, make sure to do a thorough job. You’ll be able to keep costs down and provide a fairer quote when working with customers. You may want to develop a checklist to make sure you have checked all the common problem areas and showed the property owner what you observe regarding damage and the dangers of hesitation with repairs.
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