Are you ready to embark on a home restoration project? There is much to prepare for as you move forward.Whether you are forced to restore your home as the result of recent water, fire, storm, or smoke damage, this guide on how to prepare and what to expect will keep your journey as streamlined and stress-free as possible.
Approach the Home Restoration Process with an Open Mind
You might not have expected this piece of advice from a professional contractor, but approaching your home restoration with an open mind is one of the best ways to set yourself up for a successful process and outcome.
There can be all kinds of unexpected events, delays, and unforeseen issues that arise during restoration projects. Understanding that ahead of time helps you to go with the flow, and to keep the project moving forward at the pace it needs to to go at, until the final permit is officially signed off by the building department.
Restoration vs Renovation vs Remodel
Home restoration is different from a renovation or remodel. This distinction is important because it will help you locate the central Florida contractors who are best suited for the job.
Restoration brings a building or home back into its former glory as the result of severe damage or a destructive decline. Here in central Florida, newer homes require restoration when damaged by tornado or storm damage, or if a flood, fire, or other natural disaster destroyed a fair amount of the structure. Homes that have been neglected may also require restoration due to latent, unrepaired leaks or severe mold and mildew damage.
Home renovation takes an older home and updates it with respect to contemporary fixtures and design trends. So, in the example of a historical home restoration, contractors might restore all of the original woodwork until it gleams, while also renovating the kitchen with contemporary appliances or the addition of a kitchen island.
A remodeling project transforms a room or space in the home using mostly cosmetic changes. It’s a mostly surface version of “out with the old and in with the new.” Remodels are usually done as the result of taste preferences rather than a response to structural damage or repairs.
Once you’ve determined your home is in need of restoration, it is time to find the right home restoration contractor for the job. You don’t want a general home remodeler to be called when your home is suffering from major damage or rot. Home restoration is a construction niche, so you need to find a qualified contractor who specializes in restoration work to make sure the job is done right.
Select the Best Home Restoration Company For the Job
It is essential that you work with a restoration company that is licensed, bonded, insured, and that has plenty of experience completing projects like yours.
Unlike cosmetic solutions, restoration work is often complex and affects the core structural elements of your home such as the foundation, load bearing walls, joists, or the roof. Failure to restore these to the current building codes can result in serious fines and penalties and will lead to a lifetime of future home repair and replacement issues. And, of course, a shoddy restoration job negatively impacts the current and future resale value of your home.
Meet With At Least Three Different Home Restoration Contractors
It is wise to meet with at least three different professional restoration companies. In addition to comparing estimates, it gives you a chance to review their portfolios, get a feel for their professionalism and communication skills, and to see who you feel the most comfortable with.
Here are some of the questions to ask and things to look for when choosing your home restoration company.
- Are you licensed, insured, and bonded? Prospective contractors should be happy to provide proof of their license, insurance, and bonds. You can also verify a contractor’s license at your local building department or at MyFloridaLicense.com. If you verify their license number online, ask the contractor what name the license is listed under. Often, the owner of the company might hold the license in his/her legal name, and is “doing business as (DBA)” the company name, which means the company name might not show up in a search online.
- Do you work with homeowner’s insurance companies? If your home restoration is the result of water, mold, or fire damage, odds are that your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover all or a significant portion of the repair costs. Working with insurance representatives can be complicated, so you want to find a home restoration company who is at ease communicating with your carrier and who has experience supporting clients through the claims processes.
- Is there a photo gallery or portfolio I can review? Experienced restoration companies have seen and done it all. However, it makes sense that if you live in a Victorian home, you want to work with a company who has the expertise to restore hardwoods and antique fixtures; if you have a mid-century modern home, it’s nice to see examples of homes like yours that have been successfully restored in their gallery. Reviewing before-and-after examples of their work allows you to see if you feel confident with their work.
- Can I speak to recent clients about their experience working with you? The companies you’re considering may have wonderful websites and loads of quoted client testimonials, but reading them doesn’t compare with the voices of real clients. Professional contractors who are good at what they do are proud to offer contacts from their recent client lists. Taking the time to speak with their referrals gives you a realistic idea of the clients’ perspectives.
- Who will I be communicating with? And what is the communication process like? Every company is different. With some, you may be in direct communication with the lead contractor running the job while others may assign an inside project manager as your main liaison to the construction team. Ask how quickly you should expect to have phone calls returned, to receive email replies or when they typically notify clients about scheduling changes, etc. Knowing that it may require 24 to 48 hours, rather than four hours, to get a call back will keep you from feeling ignored if a message or query isn’t tended to right away.
By the time you’ve met with three licensed contractors and worked through the above questions, you’ll have a clear sense of who you feel best moving forward with for your home restoration.
Budgeting for a Restoration Project
Budgeting for the home restoration process may be easier than you think, especially if the project qualifies for reimbursement or payment from your homeowner’s insurance carrier. That said, there are a few things you should know:
The Average Home Restoration Costs in Your Area
If you are restoring a living room that was damaged in a fire, but the rest of the house is in good shape, your budget will be notably smaller than a homeowners whose fire destroyed the living room, kitchen, and adjacent bath. In central Florida, small restoration projects run about $7000 to $10,000 and larger home restoration jobs will cost as much as $25,000 or more depending on the amount of damage.
Also, don’t underestimate the amount of damage done by smoke to other areas of the home or from the water or chemical agents used to put out the fire. This leads us to the next tip that is to pad the home restoration budget with an extra 10% to 15% so you can comfortably handle any unforeseen or unexpected issues that arise during the project.
Plan for an Extra 10% to 15%
Restoration projects can be a bit mysterious. For example, we may know we have mold and mildew damage to contend with, but we won’t actually know the extent of the damage until we open up all of the walls or floors.
In fact, the very act of opening up walls, floors, and ceilings can lead to other discoveries that drive up the costs of the renovation. For example, we may find that the existing plumbing or electrical work was not built to code. That means it has to be replaced before our work would ever be signed off by the building department. That adds additional costs to the overall project.
While we try to be as transparent and honest as possible when we provide estimates, restoration projects inevitably have an unforeseen issue or two that should be accommodated by the extra 15% you’ve budgeted for.
Preparing Your Home & Your Lives
Once you’ve chosen your contractor, connected with your homeowner’s insurance policy carrier, and established the restoration budget, it is time to begin preparing your home and your lives for the weeks or months ahead.
While the restoration of a living room or bedrooms can take place in a matter of days or weeks, restoration of a kitchen and bathrooms will usually require at least six weeks to two months or more. Odds are that your contractor will provide resources or information about how to prepare for the actual demolition and construction phases of the restoration. These will include things like:
Securing a Place to Live
If the fire or water damage was severe, your family may need to move out for a portion of the renovation. In cases like these, the contractor will typically start with the kitchen, a bathroom, and a living space so that you can move back in ASAP and live in a modified version of your home until the project is complete.
If you only need to be out of the house for a week or two, this is a great opportunity to take a road trip, visit family far away, or take a luxury vacation. That said, your contractor will want to remain in close contact, so keep then in mind if you use this time to plan a getaway.
Store Your Belongings
Undamaged items should be moved out of the home and into storage as soon as possible. This prevents them from taking on more smoke smell or “catching” a mold or mildew infestation from the elevated humidity levels caused by water damage. If you are unfamiliar with storage facilities in your area, the restoration company will have recommendations for you.
Plan for Extended Scheduling
Just as you should plan to pad the budget, we also recommend mentally preparing for an extended calendar. There are things that are out of your contractor’s control and that may require more time to address. This often happens when replacement appliances or other fixtures are on backorder, which can slow the construction timetable down.
Be Ready to Create a Makeshift Kitchen
If you’re able to remain in your home but it is going to be kitchen-less for a portion of the home restoration, you’ll need to plan a makeshift kitchen space. The garage, a covered patio (it’s like “glamping” in your own backyard), a nice sized bathroom, or laundry room are all potential contenders. Hot plates, microwaves, and a tea or coffee pot can go a long ways towards providing the basic food comforts for the duration of your kitchen restoration.
We recommend reading HGTV’s post, Surviving Without a Kitchen During Your Remodel, which has detailed ideas and things to consider to help keep you sane in the duration.
Make Proper Arrangements for Pet Care
Depending on your work schedules, you will need to make arrangements for pet care. Your pets cannot roam freely in the home while it’s under construction. During business hours, you may need to designate a particular room or space as a pet sanctuary.
Make sure cats and dogs have comfortable beds, their favorite toys, chew/scratch toys, and ample fresh water available in the room. Litter boxes and potty pads should be present as well if you don’t have the ability to let them out during the day. If you have a pet that is particularly anxious, speak to your vet about mild, safe sedative options to help to keep him/her calm.
Some pets, especially small birds or rodents, can be lethally sensitive to construction dust, particulates, and fumes, so you may want to find them a place to stay until the bulk of the project is complete. Speak to your veterinarian about your situation and adhere to the vet’s recommendations.
Prepare for the Mess
There’s no way around it. Construction sites get messy no matter how careful the crew is about hanging plastic and taping off working areas. The noise and constant in-and-out of contractors, combined with perpetual dust and debris and the ever-changing construction landscape can drive clients crazy if they aren’t realistic about it from the outset.
If you or a member(s) of your family is particularly sensitive to noise, dust, or disruptions in the routine, your contractor can help you determine which phases of the schedule will be the most difficult so you can make plans to stay elsewhere if needed. High-quality ear plugs can also go a long way towards making the home habitable while the crew is at work.
Make Home Restoration Dreams a Reality
Keeping an open mind, hiring the right home restoration company for the job, and knowing what to expect go a long way towards making your home restoration dreams a pleasant and livable reality.
Are you ready to transform the ugliness of water or fire damage into a beautiful, livable home space again? Contact us here at Central Florida Restoration Solutions. We have more than 25 years of reliable, honest, and expert restoration experience all over central Florida, and we look forward to showing you how streamlined and stress-free the home restoration journey can be.