Guide to Rebuilding Your Home After a Fire

A fire in your home is terrible. After the relief of knowing everyone is safe and sound comes the enormous task of rebuilding. There is so much to do. Amidst the rush of emotions and the need to take care of your family, it can be difficult to know where to begin. It’s a long road to recovery, but it will be easier to manage when you know what to expect. Here’s a list of steps to follow to get you back into your home as soon as possible.

Steps in the Wildfire Rebuilding Process

Step One: Call Your Insurance Carrier

The best, first step you can make to start the rebuilding process is contacting your insurance. You want to start the claims process as soon as possible, so you’re able to utilize the insurance you’ve invested in.

Step Two: Assess Your Home’s Structural Damage

Fire damage is not always cosmetic. Even smoke can weaken the structural integrity of your home. Before you start the restoration process, you need to ensure that your home is safe to enter. Your restoration contractor can recommend a structural engineer to inspect your home. They will outline necessary repairs for damage that may not be immediately visible to the naked eye, including:

  • Basement, floor, and ceiling joists
  • Interior, load-bearing walls
  • Foundation and basement walls

The restoration contractor will also recommend licensed carpenters and electricians who specialize in restoring fire-damaged homes. It’s important, for your own safety, that you don’t try to re-enter the home until the structural engineer tells you it’s safe to do so.

Step Three: Secure Your Property

Most insurance companies insist on securing vacated homes damaged by fire. Not only will it keep vandals and scavengers out, but it also reduces liability risk for injury.

Once you’re cleared to begin the restoration process on the house, secure your entryways except for one and board up all your windows. If you need assistance, your restoration contractor’s team will be happy to help.

Step Four: Repair the Structural Damage First

When you address the repairs recommended by the structural engineer first, you ensure that your home is not only safe to enter, but also safe to live in. The licensed carpenters recommended by your restoration contractor will restore the house’s structural integrity by replacing damaged trusses and joists, rebuilding interior framework, and repairing the attic.

Step Five: Inspect the Electrical System

Even if the fire didn’t destroy the home, smoke, and heat damage to the electrical system greatly increases the likelihood of another fire if the electrical system isn’t carefully inspected and repaired. 

Very often, a house’s breaker box will need to be replaced. All wiring, outlets, and fixtures must be tested for damage and possibly replaced.

Step Six: Address Problems Caused Specifically by Fire Damage

In addition to the structural and electrical integrity that must be repaired to make your home safe to live in, there’s additional fire and smoke damage that can occur that may make your house unhealthy to live in. Things like:

  • Contaminated air ducts
  • Smoke stains and soot residue
  • Mold growth in damp sheetrock or drywall

Your restoration contractor can help address all these problems and more.

Step Seven: Be Patient and Methodical

Restoration of your home can range from several weeks to several months, so it’s important to stay patient and not to rush. Your restoration contractor will do their absolute best to get you back in your home as soon as possible. They’ll be replacing sheetrock, restoring floors, and even salvaging furniture. Addressing these issues room by room is the fastest way to get you back in your home while repairs complete.

Step Eight: Document Everything From the Beginning

Your insurance claims representative will help you determine the value of your lost or damaged property. There are many online guides that can help you compile an inventory list of your property that you can store digitally in case of emergency that will help make this process easier. 

You also want to save every receipt for money spent related to the fire loss. This includes any money spent on hotels or other living expenses during your stay outside your home. Your claims representative will help you determine what you can receive a reimbursement for, and detailed records will make that process much easier. The restoration contractor can also help you with this part of the claim process.

Protect Your Home with Farm Bureau Insurance

Through the combined efforts of the carpenters, electricians, the restoration contractor, and insurance claims representative, most homes can be completely restored following a fire. Make sure that you have enough insurance to rebuild your home after a fire by purchasing homeowners insurance through Farm Bureau Insurance. Get a quote from a local agent by using our Agent Finder.