Storm damage can strike your home at any time, no matter what season, causing a tremendous amount of harm to your home and giving you big repair bills. Your bills may be covered by a home insurance policy, but the damage that a storm brings can still cause a lot of stress within your home. For example, powerful winds can rip shingles and flashing off of your roof, heavy rains or melting snow can cause flooding in your basement, and hail can damage your siding. Even when the storm has passed, remaining debris can create health and safety hazards, as well.
Luckily, houses can be repaired and homes rebuilt with the proper strategy in place. Here are the steps you need to take immediately after storm damage occurs.
First, Preventative Measures
To stay safe and keep your property protected, consider taking these preventative measures to prepare for a storm.
Take Safety Precautions
When a bad storm hits, wind, rain, lightning, snow, hail and more can damage your home, causing major problems such as collapsed roof, cracked windows, stained walls or standing water in the basement. Perhaps the worst culprit is water. When water penetrates your home, it can soak into furniture, flooring, walls and more, creating an environment for mold to flourish. Fix any leaks and cracks in your roof or home as soon as you can to prevent a flood during a storm.
Avoid using or storing the following in areas that are commonly affected by storm damage, like attics, basements and garages, as they are likely to be dangerous if affected by storm damage:
- Fiberglass or cellulose insulation
- Cork, corkboard
- Gasoline, weed killer, pesticide, lye, drain cleaner, swimming pool and other chemicals
- Particle board, chipboard, fiberboard, paperboard, strawboard, masonite paneling
- Wallboard, Sheetrock, drywall, gypsum
Look out for other items that could be hazardous in an emergency, such as exposed nails, broken glass or other sharp objects throughout your home.
Get a Professional Inspection
When a storm hits, your home’s roof normally ends up taking the brunt of the damage. That’s why it’s crucial to get a roof inspection before and after a storm happens. A professional roof inspection will provide you with two key benefits in the event that storm damage occurs.
- Identifying the small issues that weaken your home: a professional roof inspector is best suited to pinpoint issues and provide repair recommendations to make your home more durable during a storm. Catching small issues earlier, some of which you wouldn’t know to look for, can save a lot of money and stress later on.
- Supporting insurance claims: if you need to file an insurance claim after storm damage occurs, a professional roof inspection is critical. In order to receive coverage, a roof inspector can tell you exactly what the damage estimate should be and how much it costs to fix issues. The majority of the time, insurance providers require a professional roof inspection to be completed before they’ll issue your claim.
If you are worried about any other parts of your home then be sure to call in a professional for that too. For example, if there is something wrong with your electrics then just search online for an electrician in your local area.
Secure Home Inventory: All home insurance policyholders should compile a home inventory of their possessions before a storm strikes, and keep it in a safe place. A home inventory is a list that documents the contents of your home. It should include photos, detailed descriptions, and purchase receipts when possible. Having a home inventory will make the claims process much easier. If you don’t currently keep a home inventory, start one as soon as possible.
Take Inventory of Your Items
Insurance is a big component of recovering from storm damage, so taking inventory of your home is critical. A home inventory simply documents all of the contents of your home — something that all home insurance policyholders should have before a storm strikes. Take photos, write detailed descriptions and include purchase receipts whenever possible. This makes the storm damage claim process much smoother. Once you take the inventory, keep it in a place that’s safe from the storm, such as a fire/flood proof box or a safe deposit box.
Board Up Your Home before a Storm
Boarding up your home is especially important for those homeowners on the coast, where strong hurricanes bring in high winds and floodwaters. To cut down on repair costs and to protect your windows and doors from breaking and letting the water in, board them up with plywood. Cut out pieces of plywood to fit the individual doors and windows you want to protect, labeling the pieces so you can quickly attach them to the correct area.
Secure Loose Debris Around Your Home
High winds can toss around things such as lawn furniture and potted plants like tennis balls, putting your home in a bad position. If you know that a storm is on its way to your area, secure any potential debris that’s around your home. Everything from patio chairs to kids toys to garbage cans to grills should be tied down or moved into the shed. Additionally, trim back tree branches to prevent fallen limbs and secure window shutters to defend against debris. This will help minimize potential damage to your home.
Prepare Secondary, Emergency Plans
Some storms, such as hurricanes, may be too intense and will require you to head out of town to stay safe. In that case, you’ll need to find secondary lodging that provides protection for you and your family. Check with immediate family members, relatives, friends or check with your state’s emergency hotline for other resources.
Steps to Take Immediately After Storm Damage Occurs
When the storm clears, and you have a chance to assess the damage your home incurred, here are the steps you should take to get your life back to normal.
Keep Yourself and Your Family Safe
Always keep safety at the forefront of everything that you do during and after a storm. Keep these things in mind as you begin to assess damages to your home:
- Keep kids and pets inside, contained in a safe area of the home, with someone watching over them.
- Look out for hazards like broken glass, tipped furniture, floodwaters or exposed wires.
- If there are downed power lines near your home, alert the police and utility company immediately — don’t go within 10 feet of a downed power line as they could be energized and highly dangerous.
- If you’re forced to inspect your home at night, use a flashlight instead of an open-flame lighter or candle. This will remove the risk of accidentally lighting a gas leak and starting a fire.
- If you suspect gas is leaking in or around your home, shut off the main gas line, open the windows and take everyone outside. Alert the police and the gas company about the leak and don’t assume the gas is gone until the authorities have told you you can return.
Conduct Emergency Repairs
You don’t need to wait around for authorities to arrive to make a few necessary emergency repairs. Use plywood to board up broken windows and keep water outside using tarps. If there are holes in your roof or your windows are broken, be sure to cover them as quickly as possible so that wind and rain do not seep in and cause further damage.
Try not to make any permanent repairs before an insurance adjuster has had a chance to assess the damage. While you may be wanting to start fixing up your damaged property, that could affect the final payment amount the insurance adjuster will authorize.
Take Pictures of All Damage
If you’re able to move freely about your home and property, use a camera to take pictures of the damage so that you can provide proof for your insurance claim. The insurance company will require pictures and possibly a professional damage assessment if you’re trying to recoup losses caused by a storm.
Call Your Insurance Company
As soon as you have photographic evidence of the damage your home incurred, call your insurance company and explain your situation. Your agent will be able to guide you through the next steps in making a claim, providing you with a claim number and a local list of emergency service providers (should you need it). They will also send an adjuster to assess the extent of the damage so that payment for repairs can be issued. Get started on your insurance claim immediately, as many companies will restrict the amount of time you have to file it (usually 30 days). Once you call your insurance agent, contact your county emergency management agency.
Look into Federal Disaster Assistance
If your area was declared a storm disaster area, you may qualify for Federal Disaster Assistance. This government agency help homeowners struck by major storms, providing loans that can help in restoring properties back to their former glory. Even if you do have a solid insurance policy, you may still qualify for more federal disaster assistance.
Visit the Federal Disaster Assistance website here to find out more information about the program.
Review the Damage and Prepare for Repairs
Even though the adjuster will have a good eye, it’s always smart to assess the damage yourself, just in case they missed something. Here are a few key things you should inspect to ensure you’re not missing out on any extra damage payments.
- Roof damage: storms hit your roof the hardest, and when heavy debris lands on your house, it can cause damage throughout the entire structure. Take a close look — if you have safety equipment, crawl on your roof to zoom in, otherwise use binoculars from the ground. If you find holes in the roof, split seams, missing shingles, damaged flashing, exposed seams, dented metal panels, granules in gutters, cracked tiles and leaks inside, it may be a sign that your home has been hurt by the storm.
- Exterior damage: look around the exterior of your home for signs of damage to the facade, siding, deck, shed, garage and even landscaping, such as downed tree branches.
- Gutter damage: Gutters and downspouts play a crucial role in directing water away from your house and towards the storm drains. This keeps water from infiltrating your home and causing havoc on its interior. If your gutters or downspouts are clogged with debris, clear them out with a hose to prevent water from spilling over and onto the side of your home. Even though this method can help to wash away any debris that is living in your gutter, some of this excess water may take the place of the waste instead.
- Standing water: if the storm caused extended power outages and your home uses a sump pump, you may experience standing water in your basement. If this is the case, turn off your power breakers before going into the water to avoid getting electrocuted. Remove the water by re-engaging the sump pump.
- Door and window damage: inspect all of your doors and windows, as they are very susceptible to damage during a storm. Search closely for broken panes, cracked or holey glass and damaged frames. Board up any broken windows until you have a chance to repair them.
Remove Debris when It’s Safe
Once you’re sure the storm is passed, you can begin cleaning up the debris caused by the storm. As safely as possible, remove any debris from your roof and gutters, deck and patio, detached buildings and landscape. Make sure downspouts are working to keep water away from your foundation and property.
Contact a Reputable Contractor to Help Restore Your Life
When a storm hits, hiring a contractor to help revitalize your home may be necessary. It’s important that you choose a contractor that you can trust to get your life back on track. When storm damage repair is done incorrectly, it can leave you with even more problems in the future. That’s why it’s so crucial to find a reputable contractor that works with you to deliver a great final product.
Here are some tips on choosing the right contractor for your storm damage needs:
If you must hire a contractor you do not know, talk to several contractors before you sign anything. Reputable contractors would agree that you should take the following steps:
- Request references from a contractor to ensure that they deliver on their promises. Any contractor worth your business should be more than willing to provide the names and emails of previous customers so they can speak of their experience. Ask them if they would work with the storm damage contractor again.
- Seek out information on the contractor’s reputation through industry resources like the Home Builders Association and Better Business Bureau, or online resources like Yelp, Google, Angie’s List, and Facebook.
- Ask for proof of certifications, licensing and insurance to ensure that the contractor’s work is fully backed and you’re protected in the event that something goes awry, like someone getting hurt on your property.
- Obtain a written estimate, contract and any other guarantees from the contractor. These documents are crucial in laying out the project’s scope, including work, materials, costs and timeline. Have an attorney review everything before you sign to ensure its airtight.
- Ask for a copy of the final signed contract and file it away somewhere safe.
- Don’t approve any work before it is finished. A contractor that acts as a partner should never ask you to sign completion papers or complete payments until you’re satisfied with the work that was conducted.
Future Steps to Take
Install a New, Storm-Resistant Roof System
Whether your roof took a huge hit during a recent storm or you just want better protection for your home in the future, impact-resistant shingles can provide a more protective, durable roof system. These specially made shingles are highly resistant to elements of storm damage such as falling debris, hail and high wind.
When you’re shopping for shingles, keep an eye out for ones that are classified by the Underwriters Laboratories or Factory Mutual with a number of UL 2218 or FM 4473, Class 3 or 4. This class of shingle provides a few benefits, including:
- Higher resistance to wind and flying/falling debris than non-impact-resistant products — providing effective protection in wind up to 130 mph.
- Better warranty than non-impact-resistant shingles, with most including a 50-year warranty
- Save on your homeowner’s insurance premium due to the higher level of home protection and lowered level of risk damage.
- Higher resistance to fire, as products have a fire rating of “Class A”.
- Gain a unique selling point for a prospective buyer.
- More eco-friendly.
While you may pay a little more for impact-resistant roofing materials, these shingles that come in asphalt, metal, molded polymer, plastic, cement and recycled rubber, will keep storm damage at bay. As the most important asset you own, your home deserves the best protection. Since the roof is the first line of defense, high-impact shingles may provide the extra protection you need to avoid costly storm damage.
Storm Damage Facts
There are several parts of the U.S. that experience heavy storms throughout the year, or at least during a season, which can bring damage-inducing weather. The following storm damage facts will help you understand the importance of preparing your house for a bad storm.
Thunderstorms are the Most Common Source of Damage
With strong winds, rain and hail, a thunderstorm brings the most damage to homes across the U.S. Thunderstorms are responsible for over half of all wind damage cases in the U.S.
Storm Damage Repair is Most Expensive for Hurricane/Tornado Damage
Because of their intensity, hurricanes and tornadoes cause the most costly damage to homeowners across the country. While thunderstorms are the most common source of damage, hurricanes and tornadoes bring stronger winds and cause more severe damage.
There are More Hail Storms than Tornadoes
Tornadoes cause costly damage, causing $3,642.2 million in property damage, but hail storms are actually more common than destructive twisters. Dangerous hail events outnumber tornadoes in the U.S., with over 5,000 events reported every year. Tornadoes, on the other hand, only get reported about 1,000 times a year.
The Cost of Storm Damage Repairs
According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of storm damage repair is $6,760, and can vary between $2,433 and $11,912 depending on the true extent of the damage; you can expect to pay between $1,071 and $4,089 to restore or repair water damage, with an average of $2,580.
Natural Disasters are on the Rise
2017 was the costliest year on record for natural disasters in the United States, with a price tag of at least $306 billion. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which tracks billion-dollar disasters, reported that the record total came from 16 separate events with damages exceeding $1 billion. Now is the time to take preparations your home for a severe storm.
Now that you know what steps to take when storm damage occurs, you can start making preparations to get your home back in order. A storm can strike your area at almost any time causing a large amount of damage to your home, leaving you with a huge mess to clean up and huge repair costs. If a thunderstorm, wind, hail or blizzard hits your home, you want to be prepared.
Take preventative measures as soon as possible, because you never know when the next storm is around the corner. When the storm does hit, ensure that you and your family are safe before assessing, recording, reporting and fixing damage. Once the storm has passed, it may be time to update your home to protect it from disasters in the future.
Need a Storm Damage Services for Your Home? Get in Touch with Northface Construction Today!
Northface Construction is the premier leader in storm damage repair. We’ll get your life back on track with full-service roofing, siding and exterior rehabilitation. We know that experiencing home damage can be a stressful experience — we want to make it easier for you. It’s our commitment to always provide our clients with the highest level of customer service, working as a partner to bring your vision to life.
Our small but dedicated team of experienced craftsman works with only the highest of quality materials. Let us know how we can help you return your home to normal form after a severe storm strikes your area. Get in touch with our dedicated team of storm damage repair specialists today!