Damage Prevention and Restoration

Mark Kessler

Many kinds of damage to your home can happen at any time. Damages occurring from fire, smoke, water, wind, hail, lightning, vehicles, burglary, and vandalism can range from minor inconveniences to emotionally traumatic experiences. It can be especially hard when personal belongings are destroyed by fire or water damage.

One reality is that a lot of work may be involved in restoring your home to a pre-loss condition. The task may be daunting, but taking small steps can help with the process. Let’s look at ways to help prevent damage from occurring and if repairs are needed, what to do.

Home maintenance is the first step that can prevent common damages from occurring.

  1. Examine your roof periodically for potential problems such as worn or missing shingles, missing vent caps and cracked plumbing vent flashings.
  2. Inspect and clean your gutters and downspouts from any debris at least once a year to prevent water or snow from draining improperly. Check the grading and landscaping outside the home to make sure water is properly flowing away from your home.
  3. Check windows, doors and siding for signs of water damage or wear. Very often, water will find its way into home around windows and doors. Many times, caulking can prevent this from happening.
  4. Remove hoses from exterior faucets in the fall. Leaving hoses hooked to faucets during the winter will often times cause freezing in the pipes resulting in unexpected water damage.
  5. If your basement has a sump pump, make sure it is in proper working order.
  6. Periodically check your crawl space for signs of excess moisture. Consult a professional for measures to reduce moisture, if needed.
  7. When leaving the home for an extended period of time, turn off water valves where possible, especially at the washing machine and other appliances. Unplug electrical items and appliances if not needed while you are away.
  8. Inspect your fireplace and chimney for any signs of damage that may lead to a fire. Make sure the fireplace flue is clear of debris and the fireplace damper is working properly.
  9. Always have a fire extinguisher available, ideally on every floor of the house and the garage.
  10. Inspect your furnace, water heater and air-conditioner on a routine basis. Change filters often.
  11. Have your home electrical wiring and breaker panel inspected by an electrician if your home has older wiring or your circuits might be overloaded. Fires starting from the wiring are a major cause of damages every year.

Home maintenance is one of the best ways to preserve your homes value. Many homeowners may put off performing regular maintenance items around the home, especially in today’s economy. But consider the potential costs associated with damage repairs that may have been prevented with a little time and money. Maintaining your home can thwart problems down the road, in return, saving you time and money. If damage does occur to your home, it may be an ideal time to perform some upgrades. For example, your basement floods and drywall needs removed from many walls. Since your walls are “open”, installing insulation or adding outlets are accomplished much easier and less expensively at this time.

So, some damage has occurred to your property. Now what? Call your insurance company if the damage is severe enough or you wish to file a claim for the damages. Depending on the severity, the insurance company may wish to have an adjuster inspect the damage, determine the covered losses, and prepare a scope of repairs and/or estimate. Document the damages as much as possible, including photographs or video of the affected areas.

A very important consideration is preventing further damage to your property. Emergency board up may be needed to protect your home from the elements and to secure the premises. If water damage has occurred, emergency water extraction may need performed. Electrical or gas services that are involved may need inspected, turned off or restored by a professional. Personal belongings should be removed, if possible, from the affected areas, noted for any damage and inventoried. Drying and cleaning of areas affected by water damage as soon as possible is crucial to prevent mold, mildew or structural damage. Keep any items that may have contributed to the damages, such as broken hoses or appliances for documentation purposes.

A well qualified professional contractor experienced in the restoration process should be considered to perform the repairs. The scope of repairs needing performed will likely determine the type of contractor needed. For instance, if only the roof is damaged, a roofing contractor can likely do the repairs. If a fire or large water damage has occurred, you should consider a full service contractor to handle the repairs. Some items to consider when selecting a contractor should include: the level of experience pertaining to different types of damages, appropriate licenses and insurances needed and obtaining good references from the contractor. A list of qualified contractors can be obtained by calling the Home Builders Association-Remodelers at 970-686-2798 or by visiting our website at www.northerncoloradoremodelers.com.

When the repairs are performed by a professional contractor, a well detailed scope of repairs and associated costs should be reviewed and agreed upon first, to avoid misunderstandings. Often times, an insurance company may request a breakdown of the various damages and line item costs for these repairs. A well qualified contractor can provide this and communicate the scope of repairs with the insurance company as needed.

Every property owner runs the risk of damage to their property. When routine inspections and maintenance is performed, many risks can be eliminated. When damage does occur, many resources exist to find qualified help in getting your home back to normal.

Mark R. Kessler, CGR, CGB, CAPS, is owner of Kessler Construction Co., Inc., a local general contractor specializing in restoration and remodeling. Mark is currently serving as vice-chairman of the NAHB Remodelers of Northern Colorado. Mark can be reached by phone: 970-663-4428 or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..