BBB Offers Advice to Waterlogged Homeowners

IMG 8358 002 300x225 BBB Offers Advice to Waterlogged Homeowners

Road Closed in Berea, Ohio

Sixteen consecutive days of rain storms have left behind flooded basements, garages, downed tree limbs, power outages, or flooding in area neighborhoods. Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to property owners:

  • Although you may be anxious to get things back to normal, avoid letting your emotions get the better of you. Don’t be pressured into making an immediate decision with a long term impact.  Be pro-active in selecting a business and not reactive to door-to-door sales tactics.

  • Turn off the electricity at the breaker. Turn off gas valves as well if appliances such as water heaters and dryers are also in danger of sitting in water.

  • Once the rain has stopped, lower the humidity by opening windows, running dehumidifiers, using fans, and desiccants (materials that absorb moisture). Open up cabinets and closets so they have air circulation.

  • Keep records of any damage. Take pictures and video before and during your clean up so you will have thorough documentation to provide the insurance company. This will be necessary for insurance claims, applications for disaster assistance, or income tax deductions.

  • Losses caused by flooding, sewer backup, or sump pump failures may not covered by standard homeowner’s, renter’s, or condo insurance. If you find you are not covered, discuss purchasing flood insurance with your agent to cover costs for future damage.

  • Flood damage to your car or truck would be typically covered by auto insurance if you have comprehensive coverage.

  • Find and keep your receipts for damaged items and check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Save all receipts, including those for food, temporary lodging, or other expenses that may be covered under your policy.

  • Be cautious of storm chasers who canvas neighborhoods following widespread flooding or other damage. If they claim to be doing work for your neighbors, verify with your neighbor before signing any contracts.  Ask the if the business has its own crew or uses subcontractors and, if so, the names of the subcontractors.

  • For major repairs, get at least three estimates.  Ask for customer references whom you can contact. Make sure the contractor has any required licensing/registration to do work in your community.

  • Be leery if a worker shows up on your doorstep to announce that your home is unsafe. If you are concerned about possible structural damage in your home, don’t sign contracts on impulse. Get other estimates and have the property inspected.

  • Once you have chosen a contractor, request proof of current workers compensation coverage, bonding and insurance.

  • Get a written contract that specifies the work to be done, the materials to be used and the price breakdown for both labor and materials. Any promises made orally should be written into the contract, including warranties on materials or labor and promised completion dates. Don’t sign a blank contract and be sure to keep a copy for your records.

  • Never pay in full for all repairs in advance, and do not pay cash! BBB suggests you pay no more than one-third of the total costs as a deposit. Be sure the contract specifies the schedule for releasing payments to the contractor.

  • Make sure the work is up to your satisfaction and inspect work before it is covered over by drywall or cement. Don’t sign over insurance checks or be pressured to make the final payment before the job is completed.

One of your most important decisions will be choosing the contractor who will do the repairs. A new BBB service can connect you to trustworthy businesses within seconds.  The “ABConnect” program was recently launched in the Cleveland area. and click on the ABConnect link. Select the type of service needed.  Your request is sent to the smart phone of the BBB Accredited Business professional located closest to you who can respond to your request within seconds.

(Sara Jennings contributed to this post)

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About Sue McConnell

Sue is the senior vice president of BBB Serving Greater Cleveland. She began her BBB career in 1980 and has served on various national BBB committees. Sue has conducted peer trainings locally, regionally, and nationally and represents BBB in local print and broadcast media.