Fire Restoration Specialist vs Building Contractor

“After a fire at my home or business, should I hire a fire restoration company, or can my local contractor handle the job?”

Building contractors are typically very competent at new construction. Unfortunately, before the new materials go into a home being repaired from fire damage, there are many steps to be taken which the building contractor may not be willing or trained to handle. Fire, smoke, and water affect certain parts of a home differently, and therefore each area may require different methods of sanitizing, restoring, and rebuilding.

A fire restoration company has the training, knowledge, and specialized equipment to handle each unique situation. Many times, damage occurs in areas that are not visible, i.e., behind walls, in crawl spaces of attics or basements, or has affected the structural, electrical, heating, and/or plumbing systems. As is often the case, damage occurs far from the source of the fire, due to the fact that heat, smoke, and water travel. Many building materials in modern homes become toxic when exposed to fire, smoke, and water. Additionally, smoke or smoky water – trapped inside walls, under floors, inside electrical conduit, etc. – if not found and properly cleaned, will give off an odor for years. Finding and treating these threats requires experience and training, along with specialized equipment.

Some of the specialized equipment a fire restoration company has on hand is thermal imaging equipment, air scrubbers, negative air fans, ozone machines, commercial fans and dehumidifiers, HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) vacuum cleaners, specialized cleaning equipment, and soot and moisture measuring equipment. These specialized pieces of equipment, knowledge and training are not something a local contractor is likely to have or invest in.

In addition, before the cleaning and repairs begins, there is a total evaluation process that must take place. Most fire restoration projects are covered by insurance. Fire restoration companies are experts at knowing what can or cannot be salvaged, and how much it will cost to salvage and clean building contents. They will then pack out the salvageable contents, bring them to their place of business, clean, deodorize, repair/restore and store the contents until the repairs to the home are complete. Building contractors are not prepared or capable of handling this step. Most building contractors have no need to deal with insurance companies, and thus have little experience with navigating the system. This can cause huge delays in getting the project completed in a timely fashion.

Restoration companies typically have people on staff who have years of experience in working with insurance companies and adjusters, and can expedite the process by weeks and even months. Additionally, building contractors are used to getting paid directly by the customer, with much of the cost of the project being paid up front. Insurance restoration funds can have multiple stages and require inspections prior to being released. Most building contractors are unable or unwilling to carry the huge lines of credit and reserves necessary to do restoration work.

Restoration companies must also carry unique and higher limit insurance policies than builders. Fire restoration requires demolition and removal of hazardous materials. Products that may be perfectly safe under normal conditions, become dangerous after exposure to fire and heat. Restoration contractors must deal with lead, asbestos, formaldehyde, plastics, glues, oils, household chemicals, propane, gasoline, ammunition, and sometimes dangerous drugs, to name a few. Restoration companies are also trained to clean up biohazards sometimes present in the aftermath of a fire, including blood, feces, urine, bacteria, viruses, toxins, and medical waste. These risks require specialized insurance policies that a building contractor would not carry.

We have noted in this piece several reasons why you should choose a qualified restoration specialist versus a building contractor to restore your home or business after a fire.

To review:
1. Restoration contractors have specialized “training and certifications” that building contractors typically don’t have for fire remediation.

2. Restoration contractors have specialized “equipment” to do fire restoration work.

3. Restoration contractors have trained professionals to deal with the “contents” of a home or business. These items must be evaluated, cleaned, deodorized, and stored.

4. Restoration contractors must have “financial capabilities” that a building contractor may not have in place, to be able to complete the job, before being paid.

5. Restoration contractors must have specialized “insurance” coverage to deal with the type of work and special hazards in restoring a damaged building that a building contractor may not carry.

The staff at G.W. Savage Corporation of Vermont has the training, knowledge, and experience to restore your home or business after any type of disaster. Our promise that from the first sign of disaster until the end of recovery, you’ll have a partner who gets the job done.