Before Making Repairs
Prior to making any repairs, you must document the damage. Make a list of the damage to the exterior of your home and take pictures of each item. Then move to the interior of the home, again taking pictures of each item as you list them. Keep your list and photos together in a claims journal. Be sure to list all personal possessions that were damaged or lost in the storm.
Repairs and Rebuilding
Temporary repairs can include covering roof damage with a tarp, boarding up broken windows, doors, and walls, and removing flood damaged flooring, walls, materials and any other wet or damaged items that could cause mold to grow or otherwise make your home unsafe or permit further damage.
- If you need to hire a contractor to make the temporary repairs, try to get two or three contractor estimates for the work before making a hiring decision. Be sure to keep receipts for any materials you purchase and labor for which you pay.
- If you will do the repairs yourself, keep a detailed list of every expense incurred related to the repairs, and keep receipts with each expense.
- Take pictures throughout the repair process and describe what is going on in each picture for proof that the repairs were made.
- Only work with contractors that you know. Scam artists are everywhere, and they prey on storm victims who are desperate to get back into their homes. If someone approaches you about making repairs or rebuilding, you should decline their offer. Instead, seek a local, licensed and insured builder who has already established a good reputation in your area.
- Require that your contractor explains everything they will be doing in writing. Before signing any contract, be sure you read it in its entirety, paying particular attention to wording that is bold, italicized, or that requires your initials.
- Insist upon a written change order if any part of the project changes, and attach this change order to the original contract.
- Make sure you understand what will happen if you cancel the contract, including any arbitration clauses for dispute resolution.
- Do not pay for work in advance. If your contractor requires a deposit with periodic payments, have the terms detailed in writing, including the work that is to be done before a payment is issued.
- Do not pay in cash and do not pay for work until you are entirely satisfied with the all the repairs that were done.
FEMA adds that you should take a picture of your contractor, their vehicle, and their license plate. You should also take a picture of their business card and driver’s license. The government agency recommends that you avoid middlemen who say they guarantee that you were disaster grants or money, and ask you for upfront payments.