Dear Friends, Neighbors, and Clients:
Now that Hurricane Harvey has moved past and the sun has come out, our hearts are still heavy for the loss so many have experienced. We have had lots of calls, texts, and emails inquiring about the damage and how to begin to pick up the pieces. I hope the following information will help handle the cleanup and construction process, specifically regarding the hiring of contractors.
Disclaimer: You may or may not know that my husband, Trey, is the owner of a construction company. This is why I have a hard time posting things like this. I don’t ever want it to even appear that this advice might be construed as soliciting business on our part. This information is based upon my experience in the real estate business, information that I think YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW!
Insurance: First, make sure that any contractor who offers to assist you is insured. Interestingly, general contractors in Texas do not need to be licensed. However, any trade involved in mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) does need to be licensed. And make certain, when applicable, that your general contractor provides a list of his subcontractors with their licenses. It is very important that the general contractor and the subcontractors are insured in Texas. Insist that they provide you a certificate of insurance (COI) listing you as the insured and including your property address.
Records: Be sure to keep all your receipts. No receipts—no reimbursement! Pay by check or with a credit or debit card so that there is a paper trail for your records and the records required for reimbursement. It is also a good idea to keep a log book of all activity (including photos, email correspondence, and a timeline for reference). In addition, detail every particular finish and material that your home had prior to storm. You should be entitled to reimbursement for the same quality you had prior to this event.
Prior Experience with Insurance Companies: Be sure to choose a contractor who has prior experience dealing with insurance companies. Just because you have insurance doesn’t mean your insurance company will automatically cut a check to cover the damage, and you need a contractor who knows how insurance claims work.
Second Opinion of Value: Always get a second opinion of value after the insurance adjuster comes up with their number. Adjusters base their decisions on a book of repair costs called “Xactimate”. Be aware that those costs may not be applicable in times of labor and material shortages. For example, we know the cost of fuel is going up as will the cost of drywall. Just because a certain cost is written in Xactimate doesn’t mean that it will be realistic under these catastrophic circumstances. In other words, just because the adjustor says you should have to pay no more than a certain amount of money for a certain type of repair doesn’t make it true!
Future Sale of Real Estate: At some point in the future, if not now, you will most likely want to sell your home. Most buyers will be able to get past the fact that you took in water as the result of the storm of the century, but they may not get past the fact that you agreed to having repairs done with cheap labor and without insured and qualified contractors! Be able to document that the repairs made to your home were the best.
Again, you are our friends, neighbors, and clients. We are available to answer your questions to the best of our ability. Please don’t hesitate to call us. Working together we will get through this.
Honey Dunlap and Company/ Realty Associates