A sudden flooding of your home can be overwhelming. For residents of South Carolina, people experienced this where they never in a million years thought they would have to contend with a flood. The purpose of this article is to offer some tips for those of you who now find yourselves in unchartered territory. I offer this information based on my 25 years of experience in the carpet and floor covering business and with my experience working closely with restoration and insurance companies during most of those years. You should be careful while you are shopping for restoration services, but not so careful that you don’t get help. Find a reasonable balance between due diligence and trust. The key factors below should help you find a quality restoration company.
One of the most important assets you can have during this time of restoring your home is patience. It will help you to be mentally prepared for delays throughout this process. There are only so many contractors available to do the work that needs to be done when large areas have experienced massive flooding. Managing your expectations can reduce your stress level during the restoration of your home.
Stabilizing the Environment – There is a crucial time frame of the first 10-15 days where actions need to be taken. Whether you have insurance, qualify for FEMA assistance or you will be paying for your restoration out-of-pocket, there is a short window of time where immediate issues need to be addressed, or it could cost you. Unless your home’s environment is stabilized, it will continue to deteriorate until the cost of restoring your home environment surpasses what it would have cost you for the initial mitigation. Wood studs could warp, microbial growth could accelerate and subfloors could need to be replaced, whereas the proper drying and sanitization equipment could have saved you from having to do more extensive repairs. In the case of the flooding in Columbia, sewer systems were compromised and that introduced highly contaminated water into the flooded areas. It is important that you either know what you are doing when it comes to clean-up, or you hire someone who knows how. Every insurance company understands that doing upfront damage control is a cheaper option when it comes to restoration.
Up-front Costs – Some restoration companies may require a deposit up front before they do the work. Do not feel like this is necessarily a company trying to scam you. The average residential mitigation (drying) costs are around $4,500 for this type of work, but that does not include demolition and removal. Some companies may require a deposit around 50% of the cost of the job ($2,250). If you have done your homework and you are comfortable that you have a quality company, this is seen as a customary procedure to ensure that restoration companies are able to collect for work that has been performed. Since a great majority of people do not have flood insurance, restoration companies are taking a risk to do expensive work for people who may not have the financial means to pay the bill at the end. A deposit helps them fund the extra manpower and leased equipment needed to quickly handle emergencies for the community. Remember, most of our restoration companies are good people who handle emergencies for a living. It is how they feed their families. They are not “preying” on the public any more than your doctor is hoping you will get sick.
Fair Pricing vs. Price-Gouging – While there are laws to protect consumers from price-gouging, here is another layer of protection. Most restoration companies use a program called Xactimate, which is estimating software for the insurance and restoration industry. This software indexes labor and material costs for each region of the country and should ensure that you are not being overcharged. Restoration and drying services are expensive, but they are less expensive in the long run as compared to unnecessarily ripping out materials and rebuilding your house. In a time where price-gouging can certainly take place, it is important to find that balance between due diligence and trust. Columbia has some great contractors who have been, are and will be here to help you. Speaking for our company, we have decided to offer anyone who has been affected by the flood, the same contractor pricing that we give to our restoration company accounts.
Do Your Homework – In times of emergencies, you sometimes have to move fast. It doesn’t hurt you to take a few minutes to check around, though. Consult your local Better Business Bureau to see what companies to use, or maybe more importantly, which ones to avoid. Companies that you engage with should also be licensed with the Labor, Licensing and Regulation (LLR) Contractor’s Licensing Board.
If the company is from out of town, be sure to check the BBB in their home town. Also, the company should be licensed to do work in South Carolina. One additional suggestion is to ask if your restoration company has certification through the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). This is a non-profit trade organization that establishes ethical and quality standards in the industry. Some people may be reluctant to use someone from out of state, but if our local businesses are overloaded, you may have to use someone that is not a local company to have your emergency needs addressed in a timely fashion. It is common for our local companies to go to another state to help out when they need it, so someone being here from out of state is not necessarily a bad thing.
If you need a restoration company, contact the BBB for a list of businesses, check out Angie’s List or call us. We would be happy to recommend a restoration company to you, as we work with several of them in the area.
Paul Prince is President of DOOR TO DOOR FLOORS, INC., a shop-at-home carpet & flooring dealer in Columbia, SC, and has 25 years’ experience in the flooring industry. His company is an A+ rated, Accredited Business with the Better Business Bureau and has been awarded the Angie’s List Super Service Award for the last three consecutive years as a result of his company’s commitment to excellent customer service. For more information, visit www.doortodoorfloors.com.