Between Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the southern U.S. has endured a lot of damage and destruction throughout Texas, Louisiana and Florida. In a preliminary estimation, Moody's Analytics said the damage could amount to as much as $200 billion, ABC News reported.
Homeowners will face problems like damaged roofs, windows, doors and other basic home fixtures. Extensive flooding is one of the most detrimental forms of damage sustained.
The rising waters seen throughout the low-lying Houston area as well as on the Florida peninsula can destroy wood floors, walls and beams, carpeting, insulation and drywall. It's also a sure way to attract mold growth, only adding to the costly damages many homeowners are facing.
"Many people will have to pay for some repairs out of pocket."
To make matters worse, the majority of affected homeowners in both Texas and Florida lack a flood insurance policy. Furthermore, many flood insurance policies only cover rainfall - not rising water, which is what much of the flooding in the hurricane-affected areas is considered to be, Realtor.com explained. Without this form of financial protection, residents will face high home repair costs. Contractors working in these areas may be able to extend a helping hand in the form of financing plans that make these necessary repairs more affordable.
NAHBNow, the National Association of Home Builders' blog, pointed out that many people will get settlements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency; these may help with expenses, but it's unlikely that FEMA aid money will cover all of the work that needs to be done. In reality, many people will have to pay for some repairs out of pocket.
Unfortunately, you may be the deliverer of bad news, and your clients probably won't like hearing it. Having a financing program at the ready can be one way to calm and assist your clients.
Your clients may believe that because their home was flooded, much of it must be gutted and replaced. However, you can assure them that some things can be salvaged. With the right equipment, drywall, furniture, electronics, hardwood and more can be dried and reused.
"In fact, when carpet gets wet, people think it's ruined, but it actually ends up stronger than when it was made," Robyn Kent, a claims administrator at Texas-based Dalworth Restoration, told Realtor.com.
If you don't have the proper equipment to assist in drying out your clients' homes, refer them to a specialist you trust. Timeliness is the most essential component of salvaging a flooded home. After three days, the chances of saving furniture, wood and other features begins to diminish.
If you have some drying supplies, like industrial fans and dehumidifiers, you may be able to start remediation work, but if you don't have the right tools or training to complete it, it's important that you find a professional who can. If you half-do a job like this, mold will almost certainly follow and you can be held legally responsible for making the situation worse.
During normal business, you may respond to client requests on a first-come-first-served basis. But the aftermath of a hurricane is not normal business.
Some of your clients may be calling in with emergency repairs that should be addressed as quickly as possible. For example, if two clients call in with roof repairs, but one roof has some broken shingles and the other has a hole letting rain into the home, the latter should be addressed first. You might be tempted to give non-emergency clients a timeframe for when you'll call them back; resist this temptation. You don't know how many emergency calls you'll get, or how long emergency repairs will take.
Additionally, NAHBNow suggested putting clients who are elderly or disabled at the top of your list. These people may be unable to move throughout their home until repairs are made, making damage a greater risk to them than it is to clients who are younger or more able-bodied.
Chances are, your phone will be ringing off the hook for days, if not weeks. You can't help everyone. You may need to prioritize existing clients over new ones, and you may need to redirect some people toward other contractors in your area.
Further, you and other contractors will likely face shortages of important supplies. Be open and honest with your clients about what supplies are in high demand and what that means for the timeline of their repair work. It's important that you are realistic so that your clients have realistic expectations.
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma took a large toll on millions of Americans and their homes. Contractors can help homeowners repair damages by prioritizing emergency calls as well as elderly and disabled clients. Additionally, offering relief in the form of financing plans can be a big help to those who are already concerned about the cost of repairs. To learn about how you can offer financing programs at your business, reach out to Aqua Finance.