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Dealing with fire damage

Unfortunately we had a fire in one of the apartments, and now I have to deal with the insurance company (who have been very easy before). They would like us to use the services of one of the national companies who specialize in fire, flood , and whatever else.

I wonder if any of you as recipients, or contractors have dealt with such companies as those (PD).--NBC

Comments

  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 955
    edited April 2014
    understand you're swimming with sharks

    I work with insurance companies on subrogation cases including fire losses. While some of these companies offer benefits to the insured over local contractors, you have the right to hire whomever you like. You have two phases:

    Initial securing the scene and mitigation of damages then actual restoration. You can use one of their companies who is geared towards securing the scene properly but you don't have to hire them for the actual restoration.



    You want very detailed bids including the man hours for restoring each component, like materials, etc. Be sure they include all local licenses, permits, inspections, etc. For instance, you may need to get a variance to park a dumpster on site. Plan on the debris management, site for new materials, porta john, parking for contractors, etc. Insist all work site meet OSHA stds. both inside and out including scaffolding/ lifts/ ladders, portable fire extinguishers and smoke alarms, job site first aid kit and eye wash station, ground fault protected 120 vac inside and out within 25 ft. of the work area, additional task lighting, maintain suitable egress, low flame spread tarps indoors, etc.



    Get references for fire restoration work. Insist on a Cert. of Insurance and have them list you as an additional insured. Insist it contains "completed operations coverage" so it carries over even once job completed. Insist on proof of workers comp for ALL employees who set foot on your property-no exceptions and no illegals. Designate a smoking and break area with a trash bin and place for the crew to plug in chargers. Post the local ordinance hours allowed for work and no exceptions. Make sure you notify your neighbors. If the work requires anyone setting foot on their property, get written permission. Post job site rules including no foul language, no obscene or graphic clothing, smoke/ spit, food & drink only in designated areas and never inside. No visitors on site. No loud boom boxes. Job site must be left broom swept daily or penalties. If any mechanicals must be temporarily disconnected such as power, sewer, potable water, or heat, require 24 hr. notice in writing and provide backup for critical services. Insist entire job must be sequentially photographed especially in inaccessible areas and provide clean copies of pics. Retain 10% of job x 30 days after completion for punch list. If the job is large enough, pay for a home inspector to perform a post construction verification inspection once done. Insist all mechanicals meet performance testing including duct blaster and blower door tests, infrared thermography and combustion analysis. All new work must meet the current codes by law but not all insurance has code update coverage.



    If any contractor has a problem bidding any of these specs. move on to the next guy.



    Read this book: http://www.amazon.com/Delay-Deny-Defend-Insurance-Companies/dp/1591843154
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,572
    Thanks for your ideas

    We are used to doing our own renovations, using subcontractors, or our own hired help.

    The insurance company wants to have a detailed description of all the work to be carried out, and it's cost. This will be challenging to say the least, as the house was built in 1885, by my Great Grandfather, and then remodeled with sensitivity by my Grandfather in 1920. This area, just in one apt was full of woodwork, which they loved back then (and could do!)

    We had a roof collapse from snow in another building, and had our first experience with PD and found their estimate for the repairs to be quite high, and when accepted by the insurance company, enabled us to take over the job, and get things replaced better by doing it with our own contractor, instead of using theirs.

    I would be specially interested in what experiences contractors have had with them.

    So this repair is just a few more items on a list of things to do since coming back to live in the house in 1970. As we fixed something, and crossed it off the list, then another problem would pop up and be added at the bottom!!--NBC
  • heatpro02920
    heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    We had a fire today!!!

    Nick, I just got done from sitting with the fire inspector while he combed through a charred bedroom with a small rake....



    I couldnt wait to wash that smell off of me....
  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,572
    Condolences

    That smell is so terrible, and pervasive. I hope there were no injuries or worse.

    There is a possibility that there had been an electrical problem in our case, but in replacing some of the wires, our electrician has seen no sign of arcing from the old flexible conduit he pulled out and replaced temporarily, so who knows? Our tenant had a lot of waxes, and solvent stored tin the closet in small cans, so maybe it was due to spontaneous combustion, which we all heard about in 5th grade science. Those waxes would have exploded into a fireball of intense heat, which did a number on our old woodwork, but maybe only the ancient varnish.

    Anyway, I hope that things soon return to normal for you.

    If it were electrical, could the IR camera have picked up on an overheated connection?--NBC
  • heatpro02920
    heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    edited April 2014
    Same to you

    Also electrical in our case, the investigator found an arced wire in the ceiling above a light fixture, its such a mess, they had to break every window, everything is flooded, shut the power off, took the gas meter out, just a bad day...



    My eyes are itchy, skin is dry, I am super tired, but can not sleep...



    No one was hurt, 2 cats were sadly lost but everyone is OK... Thanks for asking...
  • RobG
    RobG Member Posts: 1,850
    Silver Lining

    There's a silver lining in every cloud, the fires could have happened in January



    Good luck,

    Rob
  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 955
    IR

    IR thermography can show only a temperature gradient. If there is no heat being generated, such as with no amp. draw, then it won't really show anything. However, when electricity is flowing IR and be quite revealing where there are bad contacts. Some large companies hire IR thermographers to scan their electrical panels annually and get reduced insurance premiums. IR is also used from helicopters to scan flat roofs looking for leaks to patrolling gas pipelines looking for leaks. Horse trainers will shoot a horse's knees to see inflammation. Can spot air bound radiators, wet ceilings and walls. gaps in insulation, breaches in air ducts, etc.

    What a contractor can do is shoot an IR snapshot just before leaving a job which would verify the conditions at that point in time.

    Cool technology but it is not X-ray as Hollywood might lead one to believe.