Tuesday, November 13, 2018


Hello Everyone:

It is a rather overcast and cool day in Blogger, giving Yours Truly thoughts of much needed rain. Rain would bring also bring much needed relief to the firefighters in California.  The bad news is rain would bring the mudslides. Right now, the Woolsey Fire burned 83 percent of the Santa Monica Mountains and there was a flare up near Lake Sherwood.  The Camp Fire, in Northern California, is about 25 percent and the Woolsey Fire is about 20 percent contained with at least 200 people unaccounted for. Eventually the fires will be snuffed and property owners' thoughts will turn to rebuilding what was lost. As daunting as rebuilding a home or business is, having a plan is crucial and will make the process less overwhelming as it seems. While the idea of just walking away from the ashes may seem tempting, Blogger is here to be of help by providing some helpful tips for property owners who wish to rebuild.

To begin, Blogger sincerely hopes you and your loved ones are safe and sound.  Homes are more than just the place you eat, sleep, and bathe. It is the place where precious memories live within the walls. Those memories evoke emotional attachments to that space.  Thus it is understandable that a homeowner would want to immediately rebuild after a fire.  Rebuilding is the driving force to returning to a sense of normalcy.  

Before you get to work, here are the steps you need take: Most Important, do not enter your home until you have permission from the fire department.  Fight the urge to rush back in because despite any superficial damage, the essential infrastructure may have been compromised and fires may re-ignite even if they seem to be extinguished. The next thing you need to do is call your insurance company. The insurance agent will advise you what steps to take immediately:

Do whatever is necessary to minimize the damage, including boarding up windows, doors and other openings, and pumping out the water

Possibly installing temporary fencing around your property to discourage vandalism and theft

Keep the utilities off until the fire department says it is okay to turn them back on

Have an itemized list of your possessions damaged in the fire with receipts 

Secure temporary housing

Hire a professional building inspector to survey the structural damage to your home (fasthomehelp.com; date accessed Nov. 13, 2018). 

The most important conversation you need to have with your insurance agent is what your policy does and does not cover.  You do not want to be one of those homeowners who own their own home but have no insurance.  What happens after you are allowed to return to your home?

Once the fire department gives you the all clear to return to your home, chances are you will only have enough time to gather the essential documents, irreplaceable items, and anything else that can be quickly retrieved. Resist the temptation to turn on the utilities until it is safe to do so.  If any of the utilities have been turned off do not try to turn them back yourself. For how ever long you are in the house, take as many pictures as you can for documentation purposes.  Collect receipts and take good notes for as many items as you can find. Even if your home looks completely safe, it may be hiding structural damage. This why you need to hire a licensed, experienced, professional building inspector to conduct a thorough investigation. Typically, a homeowner will require the services of a number of specialists such as a structural engineer, an industrial hygienist, and a plumber. 

A proper home inspection will evaluate:

The pipes and plumbing fixtures

Air quality (especially important for asthma, allergy suffers, and with pulmonary disorders)

Any intact windows and window frames

The roof

Electric infrastructure 

Steel and iron structures

Lighting fixtures and fans

Exterior cladding and concrete

Flooring material

Interior walls

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems

Door and door frames

Areas damaged by smoke, fire, and moisture

Any areas susceptible to mold (Ibid)

At all stages of the inspection it is absolutely vital to maintain an open line of communication with your insurance agent. The insurance company will send out an adjuster to do a cursory evaluation of your home.  A more rigorous inspection will be conducted by a licensed, professional, experienced inspector and may or may not be covered by your insurance policy.  One more thing, do not try to return to your home until all repairs are complete. If you decide not to return to your home, you have options. Your insurance adjuster can discuss them with you. 

When deciding whether or not to return to your home, there are several factors to take into consideration:

The extent of the damage

The scope and cost of repairs

Immediate financial needs

Current living situation 

Emotional attachment

How good is insurance coverage

Do you outright own your home (i.e. no mortgage) or do you have a mortgage (Ibid)?

If it is feasible to repair your home and want to return to your home, then it may make sense to keep your home. Your lender may be able help you secure additional financing to pay for any repairs that your insurance company will not cover. That does not mean you can finally get that dream master suite, complete with boutique-like closet and bathroom with slate tiles and steam shower.  Sorry, Blogger was indulging in a fantasy for minute. 

The Woolsey and Camp Fires continue to rage through California and will do so for some time.  The devastation is too great to begin to comprehend. Right now the most important priority on the minds of  the survivors is just get through the day, one hour at a time. A person's home is more than just a building, it is the place where a person draws strength. The building can be replaced but not the memories or emotional attachment. 

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