Thousands of homeowners in Houston and the surrounding areas are struggling to rebuild their homes. Unfortunately, this process only adds to the stress and emotional burden to an already complicated situation.
If you’re one of those affected by Hurricane Harvey, it is important to take a deep breath and focus on taking one step at a time. Don’t try to tackle this problem all at once.
Step 1 – Contact Your Insurance
Once you’re ready to start rebuilding your home, your first step should be calling your insurance company. Your agent should be there to help walk you through the process of reporting the damage to your home and filing a claim.
It is essential that you give your agent as much detail as you possibly can during this phone call. Tell the agent:
● Exactly what the damage is to the best of your knowledge
● Where the damage occurred
● How the damage was caused (What type of event caused the damage)
● When the damage occurred
While some of these may seem obvious, you need to ensure that everything is filed correctly on your claim. Also, you should ask your agent for a specific point of contact you can call throughout the process. This could come in handy if you have questions or concerns in the future.
If possible, photographs and videos of the damage are also extremely helpful when filing a claim. This is something that you can ask a family member or friend to help you with while you deal with the many other things on your plate.
Step 2 – Prioritize Your Repairs
Unfortunately, it will be a while before hurricane contractors, homebuilders, and remodelers in hard-hit areas can catch up to the demand. To minimize the overall damage to your property, it is important that you evaluate which repairs should take priority over others.
Aesthetic repairs like stained brick and broken fencing are just not as important as weather-proofing repairs like fixing your leaking roof or broken windows. If water is coming into your home, you should put up a tarp to provide some protection until repairs can be made.
After hurricanes like Harvey, there are usually multiple organizations that send licensed contractors out to help homeowners install tarps over their leaking roofs for little to no cost.
It is very important to remember that damaged structures are dangerous. When assessing these damages and prioritizing your repairs, you should never go into areas that could seem even the least bit unsafe. Your safety and health always take priority over any property damage.
Step 3 – Find a Trustworthy Contractor
There are countless nightmare stories involving the hiring of untrustworthy and inexperienced contractors after hurricanes and other devastating events. For many homeowners, this is the step they worry about most. However, there are some effective ways to help you find the right hurricane contractor for you!
● Prepare Yourself to Handle the Bidding Situation
Since there is, by far, more work in Houston than there are contractors right now, the normal standards for hiring a contractor are just not feasible.
Some contractors won’t even submit a bid to someone who they believe will be shopping around. They simply don’t have time to provide bids that don’t have a very good chance of becoming actual contracts.
To overcome this situation, you have two solid options:
- Give your contractors some rough measurements and guidelines so they can give you a budgetary estimate over the phone.
- Offer to pay contractors a small fee for their time spent visiting your property to provide a bid. If you end up hiring them, you could ask them to refund that fee.
● Make Sure Your Hurricane Contractor is Legitimate
Major natural disasters seem to be magnets for scams and inexperienced contractors. The first step in avoiding any nightmare situations is to check with homebuilders associations like the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders), the NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry), and your local or state homebuilding associations. You can also check with consumer rating sites and the Better Business Bureau.
The next step should involve getting references from your potential homebuilders or remodelers. Ask them to let you speak with previous customers. When speaking with these references, look for examples of their experience dealing with hurricane-type repairs. For example, flooded home repairs will require dehumidifiers and other equipment that helps dry things out.
The last thing you want is to have sheetrock get moldy because it was put up before the home was dried properly. Contractors like Rocon Construction have extensive hurricane repair experience and know all the necessary equipment needed to fix your home.
Finally, make sure that your contractor carries general liability insurance. This will cover any further damage that may occur throughout the job. This should be a simple request for them, and they should be able to provide a certificate of proof for you.
Step 4 – Find Available Aid
Most direct federal aid provided in these scenarios comes in the form of loans from the Small Business Administration. The SBA manages the delivery of disaster-related loans to families and individuals in need.
The SBA offers loans at lower-than-normal interest rates for the replacement or repair of primary residences. They will loan up to $200,000 for construction and renovation costs, as well as $40,000 for the replacement of personal property.
FEMA fills the gaps between insurance claim payouts and SBA financing by offering grants. The maximum grant amount for those dealing with damage from Hurricane Harvey is $33,300 per household. This grant may be used for any basic home repairs not covered by insurance. It can also be used to pay for disaster-caused child care, medical care and temporary rent.
The FHA, or the Federal Housing Administration, also has a program designed to help homeowners rebuild or purchase replacement houses. They insure mortgages for those with damaged homes as a result of storms like Harvey so that borrowers will not need to make a down payment.
Why Rocon is the Solution
Over many years, Rocon has assembled some of the very best professionals in the industry. From our lead carpenters to our project managers and supervisors, our team members bring decades of experience dealing with damage from storms like Harvey. We are all truly determined to provide the highest possible level of craftsmanship and overall quality.
We provide 24/7 service to ensure that we meet all of your needs, and we’ll assign one of our experienced project managers to your case. We also have extensive experience dealing with the different types of financial aid available in these situations. We’ll be sure to get your home back to being a home without hurting your pockets.