Stephens Restoration - FAQs
What do I need to do immediately after a disaster?
Here are 10 steps of what to do after a disaster:
- First and foremost for your own safety do not enter the property after a disaster until the fire marshal or other qualified inspector has said it is safe.
- Notify your insurance agent immediately. Notify your mortgage company as they will be involved in the restoration process. Fire damage devalues your property. Properly restoring your property restores the value. If you are not insured contact your lawyer or the IRS for instructions. If there is still a mortgage on the property you will need instructions and possible representation when contacting the mortgage company. If you are unable to reach your insurance agent most policies require that the property be secured against vandalism and looting and stop any further loss or damage to the property.
Also, with or without insurance, if you need assistance for shelter, food or clothing you may contact the
Red Cross at 1-800-REDCROSS or the
Salvation Army at 770-963-8802.
Outside of free assistance if you require shelter, food or clothing make sure you keep receipts on all purchases to be reimbursed later. The board up contractor will be paid by your insurance and under no circumstances should you be expected to pay for their services.
Do not allow yourself to be harassed or bullied by any board up or restoration contractor. If you feel intimidated or that something just isn't right contact your insurance agent or the Georgia Office of Commissioner of Insurance at 404-656-2070 (John Oxendine).
- If possible do not remove or disturb any items until the adjuster arrives.
- When it is deemed safe to enter the property the checklist below of documents should be located and retrieved as soon as possible.
|» Birth Certificate
||» Stocks and Bonds
|» Credit Cards
||» Auto Registration
||» Social Security Cards
|» Military Discharge Papers
||» Marriage Papers
||» Bank Book
|» Medical Records
||» Insurance Policies
||» Title Cards
||» Death Certificate
||» Warranties Driver's Licenses
|» Title to Deeds
||» Citizenship Papers
||» Income Tax Records
|» Animal Registration Papers
||» Divorce Decree
||» Prepaid Burial Contract
|» Payment Books
- Prepare a list of damaged or lost items and if possible provide receipts for those items. Also consider taking photographs or use a video camera for documentation purposes. Details regarding your property that don't seem important now may be important later. Many insurance companies have prepared forms to list items that are available upon request. We have these forms available to you as well
- Your insurance company or adjuster will suggest a board up or restoration contractor. It is not only your sole decision to choose a contractor you are comfortable with but it is your responsibility as their suggestion may or may not be a contractor that is a timely or quality choice.
Your choice of a restoration contractor is just like when there is an auto accident in that your insurance company can not tell you which body shop to use for repairs. If your home or property had a preliminary board up neither do you have to use the board up contractor for the restoration. The board up of your property and the restoration of your property are two totally separate issues.
Once you have chosen a qualified restoration contractor you may elect to have your contractor present when the adjuster schedules the walk through estimate to aid in ensuring that all items are included in the scope of work in the restoration. There are caustic residues after a fire and mold growth after flooding along with other hazards brought on by disasters. A poor restoration and an unqualified contractor will leave you with a less than quality property along with an unhealthy inside environment if total containment or removal of the hazards is not addressed.
Keep in mind that your home is your property and you are completely in charge of all decisions.
- Contact all utility suppliers to have service turned off if you are not continuing to stay at the property. Remove food from refrigerators and freezers. Do not refreeze food that has thawed during the time power was lost. Discard any food in refrigerators, cabinets and pantries that may have even been remotely exposed to heat, smoke or water.
- Notification of new address: Employer, family and friends, children's schools, post office (ask that they hold or forward mail or ask a neighbor to pick up your mail), delivery services (newspaper, milk), suppliers of gas, water, electricity and telephone. Now is especially not the time to have your credit affected because you did not receive a bill or an otherwise important piece of mail.
- Start a folder or file. From the beginning with inventory list of items in the house to the end of the restoration with the warranty there are many documents during the recovery process that need to be kept separate and easy to locate.
- Don't be afraid or too proud to lean on anyone that can provide aid and assistance to you. A disaster is a tragic event and requires help from many sources to fully recover from the loss. The fire department and other local authorities, your insurance provider and adjuster and your restoration contractor should all be more than willing to make your burdens as light as possible.
This is what we do at Stephens Restoration and Consulting which is that we not only restore the property to as good or better than was previously existing but we also "Restore peace of mind".
How do I find a restoration contractor?
The simplest method is to Google the words "Restoration" with the "+" sign and your zip code afterwards to find a local contractor. You should receive multiple returns. If you live in a rural area you may need to expand your search by listing large nearby cities after the word "Restoration"
In this day and time with the economy being what it is many people who call themselves restoration contractors will find you. With construction being at a stand still many residential contractors are now self proclaimed restoration contractors. Your insurance company will suggest contractors to you but every decision involving your restoration is your sole decision. Whether it is a contractor that stops by to talk to you or a contractor that is suggested by your insurance check them out.
A worthy contractor is not only licensed and insured but most importantly they should be able to provide you with many references of satisfied customers. This is the benchmark that will tell you about the quality and satisfaction of their work as well as warranty call backs and the integrity of the company. Make sure the references are legit by getting addresses and ask if you could come by and look at the quality of the work. Most customers are so proud of their restoration they would love to show it to a prospective customer. Whether you actually stop by or not if they immediately balk at the idea of you coming by the reference may not be legitimate.
Also, call the Better Business Bureau to see if the contractor has any complaints filed against them.