Updated: Jan 28
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to prevent it, unpleasant things just happen. Many people have experienced the horror of realizing your basement has flooded, and the water has most likely ruined your carpeting, or maybe you have come home from vacation, only to find that your dishwasher line has broken, and sprayed water all over your hardwood flooring.
These are just two examples of how water can affect the condition of your home. The next question most people have is: now that water damage has happened, what is my next step? Who do you call? How do I get all of these problems fixed?
Well, when it comes to the flooring repair, you have come to the right place. This article is all about walking you through the repair process. Let's get started...
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Immediately Call Your Insurance Company
If you are planning to use your homeowners insurance, you need to call your insurance company right away. Too many people start making contractor calls on their own, without calling their insurance company. This is a mistake.
Once your insurance company has been notified, they will start the process. They will send over a claims expert to take pictures, take samples, etc...
Insurance companies are required to handle claims in a timely manner. Once you have notified them, they are required to visit your property, as well as get documents turned in by a specific deadline.
You pay your insurance company for this type of situation. Let them do the work.
This article does not review the overall insurance claim process. Rather, we are going to focus in on just the floor covering portion of the project (more than likely, your claim will involve more than just flooring).
Restoration From Water Damage - The Flooring Process
Once you have notified your insurance company of the problem, they will send over a claims specialist.
Depending on the nature of the damage, the claims specialist will either take some initial information and get back to you, or they will send over a restoration company right away, to start the process in getting things dried out.
When it comes to flooring, here is what to expect:
Step 1: The claims specialist will take a sample of the damaged flooring and usually send a company over to remove the damaged flooring
Step 2: The insurance company will need to take pictures and measurements of the damaged area, and send them, along with the damaged samples into the insurance company for review. Sometimes this is done by the insurance company, a restoration company, while other times the insurance company will call a local floor covering store.
Step 3: The insurance company will receive the claim packet, and put together their reimbursement package.
Step 4: The homeowner can now start the shopping process to replace the damaged flooring.
Let's examine each step in more detail:
Step 1: - The Initial Call
Once you make the call to your insurance company, they will most likely put you in touch with a restoration company. Don't be shocked if you receive phone calls from more than one restoration company. These companies are in competition. A lot of times the insurance companies will simply send out claim notices, and it's a competition to see which restoration company will call you first.
"Restoration Company" is just a fancy way to say "general contractor." This company will serve as your main contact. They will be responsible for collecting samples, filling out the claim paperwork, contacting sub-contractors, etc...
Once you set-up a time to meet with a restoration company, depending on the damage, they will either inspect the damage, and/or they might start doing some preliminary work to remove damaged materials (to get the moisture out of the home).
At this point in the process, make sure you are taking direction from your insurance agent or company. You don't want to pay a restoration company up front monies, without the express written consent from your insurance agent.
Way too often people jump ahead of the process and get involved with sub-contractors that just want the business. You pay your insurance company for a reason. They are the professionals. If you want to get reimbursed, in a quick and orderly fashion, then you need to let your insurance agent take the lead, and tell you what to do. Don't jump in front and start calling companies when you don't know what you are doing.
Step 2: Sample and Documentation Submittals
As it pertains to floor covering, the insurance company will need to see a few things (before they will award you monies for your claim):
Samples: In most cases, your insurance company will only reimburse you for the replacement value of the flooring that was damaged. In other words, if you have a 20 year old carpet that is damaged, you'll only get replacement dollars for an equal carpet. Your insurance company will want to see an actual piece of the damaged material.
Room Diagram: Along with a piece of the damaged sample, your claims specialist and/or floor covering store will need to provide a detailed room diagram of the damaged area. This will require someone to physically take pictures of your home, as well as field measure the water damaged area.
All of the work in Step 2 will be done by either your claims expert or their designated appointee. As the homeowner, you will simply need to be available to let them in your home.
Tip#1: As a homeowner, you need to make sure the company doing this work includes all of the area that will need to be replaced. For example, if your whole main floor is the same hardwood, but only 1/2 of the area was damaged, you might have to replace the entire main floor, just to get all of the flooring to match.
Tip#2: Make sure the agent and/or restoration company pays close attention to your wall base board. Depending on the flooring, in many instances, your wall base board will have to be replaced, or at the least, removed and then re-installed after the installation of your new floor.
Tip#3: With water damage, it can sometimes take 30 days to see the FULL damage. For example, if you have water damage on a hardwood floor, you might notice the hardwood buckling in a small area. However, with water damage, that area could very easily grow in size. Make sure you discuss this with your claims expert.
Step 3: The Reimbursement Package
After the insurance company receives both the floor covering damaged sample and room diagram, they will put together a replacement package for you. It's at this step in the process where most homeowners jump ahead and get themselves in trouble.
You should not start your floor covering shopping until you have received your replacement dollar amount. Why?
Many people will visit a floor covering store, and say they had water damage and are in the store to look for some new flooring.
If the sales person knows what they are doing, the first question(s) they will ask are, "do you know how much the insurance company is paying, and did you bring a room diagram?" If you don't know the answer to these questions, you're in trouble.
If you're shopping without the proper information, such as: you don't have a budget dollar amount, and you don't know how many square feet of flooring you will need, there is a very good chance you will fall in love with a flooring product that is above your budget. All this will do is get you upset when you have to pay extra, or get you upset when you have to cancel the product you love, and take a lessor product (to hit your budget).
It is far better off to wait for the information from your insurance company, and then start shopping.
Step 4: Shopping For Your New Flooring
As a homeowner, when you need restoration from water damage, you have the right to buy floor covering from any store that you wish. In most cases, the restoration company that you are working with will have business relationships with certain floor covering dealers, and will "recommend" that you visit a certain store. That choice is entirely up to you.
By far, the best way to shop is the following:
Step 1: Before you start shopping, call the store you are going to visit, and ask them if they have a sales person that handles restoration work (more about this later in the article).
Step 2: Set-up a time for the flooring store to measure your space. Tell the sales person what your flooring budget is, which would include all installations costs.
Step 3: After the measurement, tell the flooring sales person what type of flooring you are interested in, and have them pull showroom samples that will meet your budget.
Step 4: Set-up a time to meet with the sales person to look at the samples.
This way you will start the process, only looking at samples that are going to hit your budget. If you don't like the options available, then (by your choice) you can start looking at samples that will cost you extra money. Likewise, you might find a cheaper flooring product, that will save you money.
As mentioned earlier in this article, you need to understand the insurance company will only offer you the replacement value, based on the flooring that was damaged. What does this mean? It means if you have 20 year old base grade laminate flooring that got damaged, don't expect to get monies from your insurance company that will allow you to purchase the top of the line laminate in today's market place.
So, you need to be realistic. If you have a limited budget, and need to use the insurance monies to replace your flooring, then you will most likely need to live with whatever the flooring store has that hits your budget. On the other hand, if you have some extra money to spend, you can see what sort of materials are of equal value, then make a decision if you want to upgrade to a more expensive product.
Keep in mind you are not required to use a certain floor covering store. You can repeat this process with 2-3 different stores. It's your money. It's your home. Shop wisely.
Restoration From Water Damage - Bonus Tip #1
We have a great blog article, "How To Buy Flooring For Your Home," which is a terrific resource for floor covering shoppers. This article talks about our strategy to get you the absolute best floor covering price.
How To Buy Flooring For Your Home: The Big Trick...
Most stores have a person that works in the contract / commercial world. These sales people call on apartments, work with restoration companies, realtors, house flippers, commercial office parks, schools, hospitals, etc... These folks work on commission too. You want to get in touch with this person.
Do you really think when you hear a store advertise "buy one get one free," "no money down," (or our favorite) "free installation weekend," that you are saving any money? Of course not. Quite frankly, stores mark-up their floor covering up so high, they can offer you free anything. Nothing is free. If a carpet costs a store $1.00 a square foot to purchase, and they are selling it to you for $15 a square foot, they can offer all kinds of made up savings.
Outside sales people work in a different marketplace. Commercial jobs can't be marked up like a retail job. Where a store might mark-up a retail job 40%, a commercial job might only be marked-up 15%.
As we said earlier, all sales people work on commission. So, here is what you do to get a killer price on your flooring: call the store and find out the name of the person that handles the commercial sales. Then, you ask to speak to that person. You introduce yourself, and ask if you can set-up an appointment to meet them in the showroom.
The commercial sales person will be able to give you better pricing. They will be able to give you access to products that are not even being shown on the retail floor. You will now have a connection for better pricing on every floor covering job you want to do in the future. The bottom line: do whatever you can to get with the commercial department of a store.
Restoration From Water Damage - Bonus Tip #2
Make sure you understand your policy. Here is a great video that explains what is covered, and what is not covered on polices:
Credit: Insurance 101
Restoration From Water Damage - Bonus Tip #3
Here is a great free resource tool that most websites have that can save you a ton of time. It's called a "room visualizer."
Restoration From Water Damge - bonus Tip#4
Here is another great video that goes over the restoration from water damage process:
Credit: Restoration From Water Damage
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