Although Floridians take pride in living in The Sunshine State with its year-round mostly wonderful weather, there are times when the weather acts up and does serious damage to homes. Florida storm damage is a constant threat to homeowners’ property throughout our state, and this is especially so in regard to the roofing.
The best thing you can do for your home is to be prepared. Understand what kind of damage could occur, take steps to prevent or minimize it, and have an actionable step-by-step plan to follow in the aftermath of a major hurricane or severe storm.
Here is an 8-step plan to help guide you in preparing for the possibility of storm damage OR in the event your home has already suffered such damage.
1. Prepare Your Home Ahead of Time!
There are many things every homeowner can do to improve his or her property’s ability to resist storm damage. No building can be 100% impregnable, but making improvements ahead of time can minimize and/or prevent a lot of expensive damage.
Here are some tips. Get a roof inspection once, or even twice, a year to ensure your roof is ready to face storm season – and then make any necessary roof repairs promptly. Trim back any tree branches overhanging your building or that are too close to it. Remove needless clutter from your yard. Install stronger doors and windows. Ensure gutters and downspouts are clear and won’t overflow up under your roof or so as to erode your foundation.
2. Replace Old Roofing “On Time”
Roof replacement isn’t something most homeowners want to think about, but the fact is, the longer you delay installing new roofing, the greater risk your home is at in the event of a major storm.
Old shingles are apt to break off in strong winds, allowing rainwater to quickly penetrate your roof and leak into your attic or other parts of your home. If roof flashing is not in top shape, this could also lead to a leak. Also, roofing shingles that are weak and ready to fly off in stormy weather create a safety hazard.
3. Buy Quality Homeowners’ Insurance
The final way to prepare for or prevent storm damage that we’ll mention is by investing in high-quality homeowners’ insurance. Don’t underestimate what a storm can do – even smaller weather events can do expensive damage, and you don’t want to have to pay for that 100% out of pocket.
Be sure you understand what is and is not covered by your policy. Most policies cover wind, hail, lightning strike, and power surge damage. Coverage for damage caused by falling trees will depend on whether the tree was on your property or fell from your neighbor’s yard and on whether or not it was a dead tree that you should have removed earlier.
Fire damage is generally covered, while flood damage usually requires flood insurance and is not covered by most home insurance policies.
4. Immediately Survey the Storm Damage & Act Quickly!
Time is of the essence when it comes to dealing with storm damage. You need to survey the damage as quickly as possible post-storm and take careful notes in a notebook.
You want to waste no time in assessing the damage and estimating what it’s going to take to repair it all – in both money and time. Begin to formulate a plan in your head and start jotting down ideas on paper.
If damage is minimal, you may be able to fix it all in a short space of time. If it’s extensive, you may have to plan on spending months getting things back in order again. You may even need to move out of your home temporarily until it is again livable.
5. Be Organized & Document Everything!
After an initial walk in and around your property to assess the damage, you want to start taking pictures of the storm damage so you can show it to insurance agents later on.
You also want to keep all receipts for repairs and materials for repairs that you spend along the way. If you are forced out of your home, keep hotel and restaurant receipts from that experience too because it can be covered under your home insurance’s loss of use clause.
6. Start Prioritizing Repair Work
There are some aspects of storm damage repair that need to be taken care of immediately. The most urgent projects must come first.
Prioritize reconstruction projects like roof repair or replacement, mold removal and remediation, sewage line or plumbing backup, and cave-in roofs or walls (a tree may have been thrown through by the wind.)
Less pressing problems can be taken care of later. Plus, you need to budget things so you can afford each repair step by step as it comes up – most people can’t afford to do it all at once if damage is severe.
7. Contact Your Home Insurance Agent
Next, call up your homeowners insurance agent and inform him or her of the relevant storm damage to your home. You will likely need to schedule an inspection. The insurer may do this himself or have a local contractor they approve of do it for him.
Don’t wait more than a day or two at most – the sooner you contact your insurer the better. The adjuster will want to document everything and compare it to the condition of your home pre-storm that is on record. He or she will discuss with you your options and what is covered and to what extent.
8. Choose Your Contractors Carefully
Beware of fly-by-night contractors who suddenly show up at your doorstep after a storm or who call you up unsolicited. Some companies drive around the neighborhood after a storm and pick out homes they see with storm damage – but these are often not the best picks for homeowners.
Better if you do a little research on your own. Better still if you’ve already done it and have the phone number of your preferred local contractor(s) ready at hand!
Check out ratings with the BBB or similar organizations when selecting a roofing contractor or other construction contractor to make repairs after suffering storm damage. Read online reviews and talk to neighbors and friends to see who they would recommend. Make sure the company has the proper licensing and insurance and a reputation for putting safety first.
Storm damage is never welcome and seldom expected, but when it happens, you want to be ready for it. Taking these eight steps will make a big difference and can save you time, money, and stress.
To learn more about repairing your roof and home after a storm, contact Sheegog Contracting in Central Florida today for a free over the phone consultation and a free no-obligation estimate!