How to Fix A Flooded Home
In the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, thousands of homes have suffered extensive damage. While it may seem impossible, many of these homes can be repaired, the families can return to live in them.
Judy Dutton, a senior editor at realtor.com, talked with disaster recovery experts and other professionals about recovering a home after a flood. Here is what she found.
1. A flooded home can be fixed
Despite what you might think, a flooded home can be saved rather than razed to the ground, but removing the moisture quickly is key. "The biggest thing is getting in there and getting it cleaned up quickly," says Robyn Kent, claims administrator at Dalworth Restoration, based in Euless, TX. "Closer to the three- to five-day mark is when it becomes questionable, since by then, all the materials have become fragile."
2. You'd be amazed what can be saved
"Using truck-mounted vacuums with 2,000 horsepower, and dehumidifiers, we can extract moisture from furniture, hardwood, tile, even Sheetrock," Kent says. Even electronics like TVs and laptops may still operate after a thorough drying. "In fact, when carpet gets wet, people think it's ruined, but it actually ends up stronger than when it was made," Kent says.
3. Mold, not water, is the real problem
"One of the biggest problems—especially in Houston in the summer—is going to be mold," says Tyler Drew, a Los Angeles real estate agent and investor. "The longer a house sits with water, the worse the mold infestation. Affected areas have to be removed, the wood and concrete treated with anti-mold agents, and all of this has to be done after the house is sealed, in order to prevent the infestation from spreading and sickening people."
4. Repairing a flooded home will cost you
"Drying off a 2,000 square-foot house in normal conditions may cost over $2,500, while in situations like Harvey is producing, the job scope expands quickly—and so will costs," says Peter Duncanson, director of operations and safety with ServiceMaster Restore.
While flood insurance may cover the cost of repairs, you should make sure you have the right kind (more on that next).
5. Homeowner insurance doesn't cover all floods
"Although federal flood insurance is very inexpensive in areas not prone to flooding, most owners do not take out this insurance," says Bruce Ailion, a Realtor and attorney in Atlanta. "In the past, the government bailed out these people, but that is far less likely to happen today."
And even if you do have flood insurance, you should make sure what is covered. "Many people don't realize their homeowner insurance doesn't cover rising water," says Kent. In other words, "some flood insurance will cover rain water if it comes through your roof, but most of the time, it won't cover water rising in your home, like what's happening in Texas, unless you ask for it specifically."
Read more about home remodeling.