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Need Advice: Fire Recovery


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#1 of 10 Chris

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Posted December 13 2007 - 05:28 PM

Ok, I need some advice. Recently (Tuesday) our residential house "Burned down" (quite literally, it's a complete loss).

Our insurance has been insanely great, was there within hours, cut checks, provided temporary housing and should have us in a rental home before the weekend.

This morning, we met with the first set of contractors.. individuals that were initially hired by the insurance company for emergency means (to board up the house, required by our city, etc. shut off water, etc.).

Now, today, we did the second walk through. There is absolutely nothing salvagable in the house, everything, all furniture, rooms, etc. all completely destroyed (to give an idea, the refrigerator melted and is now basically a flat brick).

While the obvious is true (this is the WORST possible timing for this; our store is at the busiest in the holiday season and now I'm having to get in extra help to fill in for me, and I can't supervise employees/handle as many tasks) it's easily the most pressing thing on my plate now.

So far, I really like the contractors that were "handed us". They are friendly, etc. and, should we go with a contractor that's on the "approved" list from our insurance carrier, any "over runs" are something they guarantee to cover, which is luckily part of a signed agreement we already have.

There are other contractors I could call in, but surprisingly, the one that the insurance company brought in is at least one I know of, so I'm not as leary.

Still, I'm "dazed" with the freshness of being thrown out of my house (jeebus, how I will miss my HT, trading a 60" grand wega for a 19" Hotel TV sucks bigtime). I don't want to just say "yes, yes, do it, start building" to these contractors if I should be bringing in tons of people. So I'm interested in hearing all advice that I can.
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#2 of 10 Brandon_T

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Posted December 13 2007 - 05:39 PM

I really feel for you Chris. My family lost our house to a fire when I was 12, it was so hard to get over losing the sentimental things. I have no pictures of when I was a kid to look back upon. Good luck in this long journey you are about to take.

Second, the contractors are completely your call, remember that. My house was damaged last month when a woman decided to run her car into the front of my home. My insurance company(Hastings) has been wonderful and willing to work with me on many options, and told me I can find any contractor, but recommended one. Luckily I knew the guy a little that they recommended so that helped and I have been very happy.

Good luck and look at the bright side, you get to upgrade and have fun knowing it isn't really your money, although it can never replace what you lost.

#3 of 10 Kevin Hewell

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Posted December 13 2007 - 06:35 PM

I'm so sorry, Chris, for your loss. Thank the lords you have good insurance.

#4 of 10 Chris

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Posted December 14 2007 - 12:11 AM

Quote:
My insurance company(Hastings) has been wonderful and willing to work with me on many options, and told me I can find any contractor, but recommended one. Luckily I knew the guy a little that they recommended so that helped and I have been very happy.

Yeah, that's kind of how I feel about now. The recommended on; not really pushed one.. they had to get someone within 24 hours to do some things that were legally required, which they took care of. I "know" this contractor (their office is about 6 blocks from mine) and so I'm not totally unfamiliar with them, which helps. I told them I had a few subs that are clients of mine I want to use, but they've been incredibly great about working with me. So, that's all very good about letting me chose almost anything.

I'll say that again: thank god for insurance. There are some things we can't replace, but outside of a rough couple of weeks at the beginning (mostly due to time of year) the rest should be OK.
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#5 of 10 Michael_K_Sr

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Posted December 14 2007 - 12:34 AM

Totally feel for you, Chris. We had a terrible house fire back in '82. Took us six months to get back in. By all means go with a contractor you're comfortable with. After our fire, the insurance company brought in a contractor that clearly had an edict to perform all reconstruction on the cheap. Whenever I go over to my mom's (she still lives there) I still shake my head at some of the shoddy workmanship that they approved. Posted Image

#6 of 10 Patrick Sun

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Posted December 14 2007 - 12:37 AM

I can't offer more than the usual "ask around for local suggestions on contractors from friends and family, and ask for references and try to visit sites of homes rebuilt by them" but I wish all the luck and patience to you and your family after such a disaster has occured, especially around the holidays, but am glad no one was physically hurt (there will always be some sentimental pangs of loss of stuff that isn't replaceable, but you just have to get on with the business of living as you rebuild).
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#7 of 10 Colin Davidson

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Posted December 14 2007 - 03:06 AM

Chris -

Sorry to hear of your loss.

If I read correctly in your first post the contractors that you initially got were provided by your insurance company and on their approved list. Other than the cost overun protection (which is nice to have) if they are on the "approved" list will the insurance company go to bat for you should there be a problem with the contractor or the services they provide?

I would also recommend checking with the Better Business Bureau in your area. If your state requires contractors to be licensed and bonded I would check with them to see if there have been any complaints filed against the company. This hopefully would give you some measure of comfort in selecting them.

Best of luck!

#8 of 10 Bob Graz

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Posted December 14 2007 - 09:33 AM

I had about $12,000 in water damage a number of years ago. I asked my agent for a contractor reference. Apparently in this case they weren't suppose to recommend contractors, but she gave me a name. I used them and they were great. They had a very good reputation, they were familiar and knew how to work with the insurance company and everything went great. I ended up using them for a couple of projects afterwards. My suggestion would be to try to get references before selecting any contractor.

Good luck with replacing your house. I hope it all works out for you.

#9 of 10 Greg_R

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Posted December 14 2007 - 11:33 AM

You are right to be cautious... there are many horrible contractors out there. I would be wary that some of them would have some sort of kick back deal with the insurance carrier (cut a certain amount of corners to save costs and get a kick back from the insurer, etc.). The sad reality is that whichever contractor you choose, you will need to be constantly supervising the building process (i.e. daily visits).

#10 of 10 Chris

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Posted December 14 2007 - 12:32 PM

Quote:
If I read correctly in your first post the contractors that you initially got were provided by your insurance company and on their approved list. Other than the cost overun protection (which is nice to have) if they are on the "approved" list will the insurance company go to bat for you should there be a problem with the contractor or the services they provide?

I would also recommend checking with the Better Business Bureau in your area. If your state requires contractors to be licensed and bonded I would check with them to see if there have been any complaints filed against the company. This hopefully would give you some measure of comfort in selecting them.

I checked with the BBB, and so far, all very good on this company. (for the most part). The subs that I have that I want to use (primarily since they either owe me money or are clients, and since I have direct access to their books, I know I won't get cheated) are in the roofing and HVAC business. So, I figure that helps.

I met with the contractor who did the original work and so far, I've been really happy with how willing they are to change their ideas based on what I think, and ideas they have... which is a perk. And when I commented I wanted to bring in a lot of subs I know, they didn't balk at all, which I thought was also a positive, rather then being some hard ass about "we use our own people".

We're doing the inventory itemization now. What a pain in the ass.
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