FAQs About Your Burned Home Straight From the Contractor

September 15, 2011 by Todd · Leave a Comment 

Can my home’s foundation be reused?

In most cases the answer is “Yes” for concrete foundation homes. There are, however, circumstances which may make the foundation unusable or in need of repair before construction can proceed. If the foundation is cracked it will have to be checked by an engineer. A few hair line cracks are typical. The concrete slab needs to be surveyed with a transit to make sure it is still level. Although the slab is still useable the plumbing inside of it may not be. The pipes will have to be checked for damage.

What should I do to check the plumbing under my foundation?

The first thing is to clean any debris from the areas where the pipes penetrate through the top of the slab. Then flush them as best as possible to reduce the possibility of contaminates further damaging or corroding the lines. A plumber should be called to run a camera through the lines and identify any potential trouble spots that may need repair before reconstruction can begin. After the lines have been flushed and inspected cap them to keep debris out. Even if you are not planning to rebuild you should do all of this as it will help educate any potential buyer and ease their comfort level with the purchase. Also, it will help protect the pipes so further damage is mitigated.

At what point should I hire and consult with a Home Builder/Contractor?

The short answer is when you are emotionally ready to move forward and have an idea which direction you want to take. Know your options. The property has to be cleaned but can you physically do the work? Are you prepared for the hazards and dangers lurking in the debris? Have you had a tetanus shot recently? There will be a lot of sharp edges and burned chemicals which could irritate some people with or without current respiratory problems. Beyond the cleaning, do you want to rebuild or just move on? Once your mortgage, if any, is paid you own the property with or without a house in most cases. You can sell the property and move on to another home. Many people aren’t going to want to be displaced for months longer while a new home is being built. Quality takes time and you don’t want a contractor that will rush the job just to get you home and get his check. There has to be a balance so you aren’t stuck with a lemon giving you problems for years to come. Any decent Contractor/Builder should be willing to sit down with you to discuss various options including approximate costs and timelines for an hour or two. If you feel pressured to act, just walk away. You don’t need a salesman right now. You need information and guidance. The sale will go to the right person once you are ready.

If I save my existing foundation does my home have to be built exactly as it was?

No. Although there are limits as to how reasonable, cost and labor wise, it is to save the foundation even if significant changes are going to be made it can be done. For example, if you want to change the sizes of a Living Room and adjacent Dining Room, taking from one to enlarge another, you likely can with little added cost depending on how the load is distributed from above to the slab below. If, however, you want to move the Master Bathroom from one end of the house to the other and the entire layout is completely different it doesn’t make much sense to cut up half of the foundation to move all of the plumbing. That will take much longer than just starting over and result in a higher cost to you. Talking to a contractor with remodeling experience will help you gauge the feasibility of the cost difference.

Someone told me they can give me a great deal to clean up my property. Should I trust them?

Not necessarily. Are they a legitimate, legal business specializing in a related field? Do they have the knowledge and experience to get the job done safely? What are the other bids you’ve received? How much lower is this person’s price? Ask yourself why he is so much cheaper. Is the debris being legally disposed of? Ask to see receipts of disposal before payment to make sure you haven’t paid this guy to illegally dump your debris. Is the metal being recycled? How much is he getting for it and is it credited to your bill as payment? Metal is as good as money right now and steel prices are up. A small deposit is understandable with a formal written contract. Be weary of handwritten agreements and demands for large amounts of money up front. Though not generally practiced in the construction field by reputable contractors most should be willing to collect the deposit from you on the day they start your clean up under the circumstances. Unfortunately, there will be a lot of scammers preying on the already emotional fire victims. Don’t be a victim twice. Check with the county, Angie’s List and/or the BBB.

Provided to you by Todd’s Home Services, serving Bastrop, Austin, San Antonio & parts of the Texas Hill Country