Insurance Claim Restorations & Remodels
Choosing Your Contractor
If you’re unfortunate enough to have endured damage to your home and are involving your insurance company, know your options when it comes to the restoration. We are so thankful for insurance in times like these. However, there are ways you can advocate for your home that will pay off in the long run.
Initial Clean Up & Repairs
Initially, you’ll need to hire a remediation company for the clean up, especially if there is any mold or smoke damage. Secondly, you’ll need to make any crucial immediate repairs (such as plumbing in the case of burst pipes.) For both of these steps, it will likely not benefit you to call a general contractor. Going directly to the remediation company or plumber is your best bet to get the work done in a timely manner. (For local residents of Bryan / College Station, Brenham, and the surrounding areas, we use Dynamic Drains. We cannot recommend them enough!)
Putting It Back Together
This is where a general contractor for remodels might be helpful, in lieu of a specialized restoration company. However, all insurance companies will work slightly differently.
For some, they will want you to collect a bid (or perhaps multiple bids) from local contractors. In this case, spend your time doing research and interviewing different contractors. Find one you trust whose expertise best fits your size and scope of project. As much as you want to get your house back together quickly, it is worth taking your time finding the right contractor. Your insurance company will then hire an adjuster to work up their own cost, and the adjuster and contractor will find a common price point.
For other insurance companies, they will send an adjuster immediately. Then, they will recommend a contractor who can complete the restoration work. If this is the case, you are not required to use this contractor. You can still find your own.
Unfortunately, these are the instances where we’ve seen homeowners get treated unfairly. This happens for two reasons:
1. Your insurance company wants to pay you as little as possible.
While this may seem cynical, many adjusters are trained to find the lowest possible price to complete the restoration. They will then “recommend” a contractor that they know will confirm their low price. However, to be able to match that price, this contractor must use lower quality materials and labor. Your insurance company should pay to get your house back to the “like kind and quality” you had before the incident. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
2. Your insurance company wants to pay you as quickly as possible.
The quicker you agree to their low price, the less time they will spend on the phone with you and your contractor negotiating cost. They will recommend a contractor who can put together a bid within a week or less. However, with the exception of small repairs, there is no way to get an accurate price in that amount of time. It is imperative to spend time figuring out what materials are currently available and for what price. They are likely not the exact same materials currently in your home. Also, since no two restoration or remodel projects are alike, subcontractors need to get on site to evaluate their own scope and cost. Getting a quick bid does not mean you are getting an accurate bid. And if they underbid, they will need to cut corners during construction to make up for it.
Where We Come In
While we have worked with insurance claims in the past, it has been minimal. We are not a restoration contractor; we are a design-build contractor, and typically work for clients doing elective remodels. This means that most of our projects focus largely on planning and design. Our clients are typically changing the layout and most cosmetic aspects of the space. Therefore, we need ample time to develop a project before coming to a fixed cost price. (For a step-by-step look at our project development process, click here.) In most restoration cases, a large amount of planning time is less than ideal. However, we can still bring value to insurance claim projects depending on your circumstances.
If you are someone who has been thinking about doing a remodel, and would like to use your insurance claim funds as a financial springboard to complete your project, a design-build contractor (like ourselves) will bring you a lot of value. We can complete the planning and design, and figure out the costs dedicated to the insurance claim versus what should come out of your pocket. You may get to use that dream kitchen or bathroom sooner than you thought!
However, if you just want to put your house exactly back the way it was, you may want to go with a contractor who regularly does restoration work. Their processes might be more streamlined to get these type of projects done quickly and effectively. However, a design-build contractor could still bring value if:
1. Other contractors are booked up.
Last week (February 2021), Texas experienced a significant winter storm. A lot of pipes burst in homes across our area, and we have already received nearly a dozen calls regarding restoration. While we don’t normally do repair work, we could use our connections with subcontractors in the area and in-house labor to complete your project. Common aspects of restoration projects like new flooring, drywall, electrical, and paint are almost always included in our remodel projects, and would be within our area of expertise. Normally we would take longer to begin construction than a restoration contractor, but if they are backed up, we may be quicker!
2. You want to ensure quality work.
I am sure there are some contractors that insurance companies recommend who do great work. However, the few bids we have looked over for clients give us pause. (One bid we reviewed wouldn’t even cover the materials needed to complete the project, and therefore, must have been using materials of extremely less quality.)
If you do choose to use a contractor recommended by insurance, please do your due diligence with online research and ask for references. As a local contractor who believes in quality work, we will stand by any restorations we do. Many of the recommended contractors used by restoration companies will come from out of town, and may be difficult to get ahold of should you notice any issues after their work is completed. Using a local, established contractor ensures that we will stick around!
Using a Licensed Contractor
Some insurance companies will require you use a licensed contractor. In the state of Texas, there is no option for a General Contractor’s license. In order to be considered a “licensed general contractor,” you must use licensed subcontractors for the following trades: plumbing, electrical, and HVAC services, and have your business registered with the local municipality. Since we fulfill these requirements, we are considered a licensed contractor for insurance purposes.
I hope this was helpful information as you navigate a home insurance claim. We sincerely want to be as helpful as we can to our fellow Bryan / College Station residents. That may mean using us as your general contractor, and it may not. Either way, please don’t hesitate to shoot us an email ([email protected]) with any questions regarding your restoration.