When disaster strikes, you have one small window of opportunity to repair the damage quickly and correctly. To do otherwise can cost you twice as much in the form of less than sound repairs.
The restoration contractor you choose must have the knowledge, skills and integrity to do the job right. Using a qualified contractor becomes even more critical when you consider the ever-increasing advances in restoration technology. Since restoration processes and techniques are continuously improved upon, you need a contractor who is familiar with advances in the field. It may pay to do some homework and some detective work to get the right person for the job.
The restoration and reconstruction industry is teeming with contractors — most of whom are responsible and qualified. But a close inspection reveals that not all contractors are created equal. Some may use sub-standard materials and techniques or even remove external evidence of damage while internal structures remain unsound. So, how can you avoid wasting time and money on a less than qualified contractor?
A Code of Ethics
First and foremost, ask potential contractors if they abide by a set of formal standards or a professional code of conduct to ensure their adherence to ethical practices. Usually, a certification or an affiliation with a respected trade association indicates a contractor’s commitment to professional standards.
Training and Education
Ask potential contractors about their education and background in the specific area you need help with. For example, Phoenix Water Damage contractors should have specialized training in and equipment for repairing water damaged structures and controlling the spread of contaminants. Ask first if they have the training, equipment and staff to do the work. Also ask if they have recently attended any research seminars, conferences, or programs to learn about updates in restoration techniques and processes. Professional trade associations offer training and education throughout the year in every region of the country.
A reputable contractor should willingly supply you with referrals for the same type of work you are requesting they do. You should be able to call the referral yourself to determine the contractor’s quality of work, professionalism, financial arrangements and the claimant’s satisfaction. Trade associations are also good sources of qualified contractors.
Professional damage repair services involve more than carpet cleaning or home remodeling. Instead, these contractors have a specific knowledge of the damaging properties. For example, the effective treatment of fire and smoke damage requires a knowledge of heat effect, smoke behavior and odor. This allows professional fire restorers to find and treat problems at their source. Several recognized specializations exist within the industry.
- emergency services to provide security, protect property from weather or mitigate damage. Emergency services are often provided by firms with related specialties. For example, a fire reconstruction firm will usually provide emergency board-up or temporary electrical service. A firm specializing in the restoration of buildings and contents may provide emergency drying and removal and protection of furnishings.
- building restoration describes the techniques required for removal of smoke residues, odor, the remedy of water damage and the treatment of personal property or “contents.” Restoration is often performed as a separate category of work since the skills and equipment employed in building restoration differ from those required for construction.
- reconstruction entails skills, organization and know-how that make it a different business than ordinary remodeling and home repair. Reconstruction contractors work with different types of structures and, therefore, develop a variety of techniques for cost-effective, timely repair.
- contents restoration refers to a specialization in personal property within a home or office that has been affected by smoke, water, construction dust or other peril. This work is performed on site or in facilities with ozone chambers, drying rooms, ultrasonic cleaners, storage vaults and other in-place equipment.
- special services include processes such as the freeze-drying of documents, structural drying, art restoration, oriental rug repair, electronic data retrieval, asbestos remediation, air duct cleaning and hazardous waste disposal.
Lastly, choose a restoration contractor who participates in a trade association or professional network of some sort that supplies regular technical resource materials and services. For example, at ASCR International, full-time staff people maintain a technical hotline, library, and laboratory to handle members’ requests and inquiries regarding specific odor, stain, bacteria or other problems.
Once you’ve selected a reputable contractor to work with, follow the steps below to avoid future conflict or discrepancies as the job progresses:
- Ask the contractor if any alternative repairs exist to save money.
- Make all financial arrangements ahead of time.
- Ask for typed professional surveys or inspection letters which specify their professional opinion.
- Ask for an itemized estimate that shows exactly what the contractor will do.
The time and money you will invest in finding qualified contractors will improve the restoration yield, reduce the chances of having to repeat the work, and reduce the risks of latent problems. Professional and reputable contractors are always cost-effective.