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Step 3: Damage Assessment
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
After taking steps to protect and secure your property and personal belongings, the next important step is damage assessment.
Understanding the extent of the damage caused to the structure and personal belongings will help your insurance adjuster efficiently process the damage claim.
It is recommended to hire a professional restoration company for a fast and accurate assessment. This will help speed up the restoration process, allowing you and your family to get back to normal life as quickly as possible.
Structural Damage Assessment
Exterior Signs of Damage
Start with a closer inspection of the property. Only if determined safe, walk around the building and lot to observe and gather information. Mark the water levels on the walls for reference.
It is recommended to prepare a visual record of the damage using annotated photos or video. Make sure your visual record shows the scope of the disaster.
Start outside. Record the exteriors and include the following:
- Collapsed portions of the roof
- Missing or damaged roof shingles
- Bent or damaged gutters
- Cracks or damaged chimney
- Stained or cracked exterior surfaces
Exterior walls and windows
- Collapsed walls
- Broken or cracked windows
- Wet bricks or exterior walls
- Signs of water intrusion through basement windows or window wells
Front lawn and backyard
- Flooded areas
- Damaged flora
Interior Signs of Damage
Now enter the structure. Taking extreme precautions, start from the top and document the following:
- Wet or cracked ceilings, walls and floors
- Wet insulation
- Wet or damaged vents and ducts
- Wet or cracked ceilings, walls, and floors
- Damaged electricity and phone jacks
- Warped or damaged wood
- Cracked or broken windows and doors
- Damaged bathtubs
- Stained sink and countertop
- Leaky or slumping flooring around toilet
- Wet or cracked foundations, walls, and floor
- Stained or damaged duct work
You may also want to consider Infrared Thermography to closely examine your in-wall plumbing and to detect all invisible moisture sources including behind walls, above the ceiling, and under the floor.
Personal Belongings Damage Assessment
Once you are done with structural assessments, move on and evaluate the damage done to your belongings. Prepare a list of damaged or lost items for your adjuster and, if available, give the adjuster receipts for those items.
A visual documentation is recommended here as well. This will help to support your insurance claim.
Create a room by room list of damage. Be as thorough as possible and use the following guidelines to help you make observations and notes:
- Appliances: Do not switch appliances on if they were exposed to water. Simply mark every appliance that is suspected to be wet. These appliances will require an electrician to test later.
- Furniture: List every damaged piece of furniture. Inspect wood furniture closely to detect signs of mold.
- Cabinets and dressers: Open all cabinets and dressers and inspect inside. Touch all sides and panels and list if wet. Make sure to list all wet contents as well.
- Carpets and upholstery: List all wet carpets, rugs, fabric curtains, and upholstery.
- Paper products: List all wet or moist books, documents, photographs and paintings.
- Digital media: List all wet digital media such as tapes, CDs, DVDs, computers and hard drives.
Be prepared to make difficult decisions about what to keep and what to discard.
Convey Your Assessments
When you are done collecting the information required for damage assessment, convey a copy to your insurance agent or adjuster for further processing of your claim.
Another copy should be given to your restoration contractor to develop a prioritized plan of stabilization, repair, and restoration.
Dealing with Water Damage - Step 1: Safety First
Dealing with Water Damage - Step 2: Secure Your Property
Dealing with Water Damage - Step 4: Structural Stabilization Procedures
Dealing with Water Damage - Step 5: Dry Out
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