1) IF YOU HAVE ROOF DAMAGE YOU MAY ALSO HAVE STRUCTURAL OR FOUNDATION DAMAGE
Homeowners' Insurance typically will not cover foundation settlement or repair issues unless they are caused by damaging winds or jarring in the ground (which can be caused by large trees uprooting). If your home has foundation problems caused by the storm it is easiest and makes the most sense to include them on your initial insurance claim.
The shockwave of the recent 'damaging winds' hitting the roof of a home transfers the force of that energy exponentially to the foundation and footings which are supported by water-saturated soils from the months of above-average precipitation received in our area. This may cause the footing to break in one or more places leaving only small evidence that can only be caught by a trained eye – someone who knows where to look for the tell-tale signs. These cracks in brick, concrete, siding, sheetrock and even roofing will not be blatantly visible until the descent of the water table which normally occurs during late summer. At that time, it may be too late to file under Homeowners' Insurance.
2) IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT, BEFORE YOU HAVE ANY OTHER WORK DONE TO REPAIR YOUR HOME, YOU ARE CERTAIN THAT YOUR FOUNDATION IS SOLID AND STABLE.
Adjusting your foundation causes some degree of adjustment to everything above it. If your foundation is damaged and you proceed with other structural repairs first, then there is a chance that the other repairs on the house will worsen the existing foundation problems. Then, if you address the foundation issues after the other repairs are completed there is a chance that correcting the foundation problems will cause problems with the repairs made previously (such as new walls, wood or tile flooring, roof, etc.) When a new home is constructed the foundation is built first. Logically then, if your home is undergoing 're'construction, you need to be sure you start with a solid and stable foundation once again.
3) OBVIOUS EXISTING FOUNDATION SETTLEMENT SHOULD BE REPAIRED PRIOR TO REROOFING OR ESPECIALLY REMODELING (sheetrock repair, painting, new windows, etc.)
When a home's foundation settles everything above it does as well. Due to the law of arc and radius, the higher up and further away from the settled or problem area, the more movement there is. For instance, imagine opening an oven door, there is more movement at the handle than at the hinge. Combine this concept with the fact that grounds are presently saturated with water. The result is any broken footings are raised hydraulically to their highest point. Any repairs made on these unstable footings are doomed to be ruined once the ground waters subside in the hot, dry summer months. Likewise, any repairs made while water tables and footings are 'down' will encounter the reverse effect once wet winter or spring conditions rehydrate and hydraulically elevate the compromised footings and foundation. Having a foundation repair expert, such as Don Kennedy and Sons House Moving Company, remodel the structural integrity of your home's foundation before any other repair work begins is the only logical choice. This will help to ensure that the repairs and reconstruction efforts your insurance company is paying for will be a long-term fix . Call it preventative medicine, if you will.
4) DAMAGING STORM WINDS MAY HAVE BROKEN OR OTHERWISE COMPROMISED MAIN SUPPORT BEAMS IN YOUR ATTIC OR UNDER LOAD-BEARING WALLS.
These could easily go undetected until a major failure later. If you have doubts, you may want to hire an independent home inspector to check out not only the woodwork for damage, but wiring and plumbing as well. Again, this may be a bill you could get stuck with later if ignored or overlooked now.
5) INTACT LANDSCAPING MAY BE DISRUPTED OR DAMAGED DURING THE REPAIR PROCESS.
In the event of exterior brick and/or foundation damage, it may be necessary to remove some or all of the undamaged landscaping and/or underground utilities, which may not currently be on the "covered items" list on your insurance policy. For this reason it is important while talking to contractors to get a complete picture from them as these things are commonly overlooked (but quickly add up). Under most insurance policies, the expense of such requires a SEPARATE claim, which means another deductible! Be sure your contractor includes pricing for the full scope of work to get the needed repairs made.
6) UPROOTED TREES CAN CAUSE DAMAGE TO A FOUNDATION'S FOOTINGS
Most insurance policies do not cover trees unless they "impact the home". Trees within 20' of the home which have been uprooted can cause an almost undetectable shift in the grounds, breaking the home's footings. The roots of most trees spread out as wide as its limbs, or 'canopy'. These roots commonly grow under the concrete footings where moisture tends to accumulate. Even if the falling of a tree itself has not caused direct damage, the dying and decaying of severed roots left behind can cause damage months or even years down the road. It may be important to note these circumstances to your adjuster or even consult with a certified tree arborist about the realistic potential for future problems.
7) UPROOTED TREES OR OTHER MAJOR IMPACT CAN CAUSE DAMAGE TO UNDERGROUND UTILITIES
Damage to sprinkler systems, sewer lines, septic tanks and field lines can be easily overlooked and can potentially lead to costly problems in the future. In the event an area where these utilities may be located was impacted by the storms, it recommended that you hire a certified plumber and/or a certified line inspector to perform a camera inspection of these lines to check for damage. A simple test for a sprinkler system is to turn it on and look for obvious leaks. Smaller leaks may be detected by watching the flow dial on you water meter to see if it spins faster than you think it should under normal circumstances based on the water you are intentionally using. This may indicate there is an unintentional or inexplicable large quantity of water flowing somewhere below ground or beneath your home.
8) UPROOTED TREES OR OTHER MAJOR IMPACT CAN CAUSE DAMAGE TO DRIVEWAY AND SIDEWALK
We all know having sidewalks and driveways repaired is labor intensive and costly work. If trees or other debris damaged these areas of your property during storms, do not neglect to report it to your insurance company. What seems like only a small nuisance now may turn into an expensive repair bill later.
9) HIRE A TRUST WORTHY CONTRACTOR
As with any catastrophic event, contractors and 'handymen' are plentiful. But, where are they weeks or months later if an issue arises with a repair that was made? For your safety, always hire a contractor who is has proper state, county and city licensure and has adequate, in-force insurance coverage, such as workman's compensation and liability. For more information and a list of qualified contractors of every kind, visit The Better Business of North Alabama at www.northalabama.bbb.org and the Huntsville Madison County Builders Association at www.buildersassn.org
TAKE & KEEP DETAILED PHOTOS PRIOR TO BEGINNING CLEAN-UP IF AT ALL POSSIBLE.
DOCUMENT DAMAGES IN AS MUCH DETAIL AS POSSIBLE.
PROTECT YOUR HOME AND POSSESSIONS TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY.
COMPUTERS – Even if your computer was damaged, your internal hard drive contains your data. It may be recoverable. Do not dispose of it without taking it to a professional first. Then, dispose of properly so as to avoid any chance of identity theft.
FENCING, TOOLS, EQUIPMENT, MAILBOX- Be sure to include as applicable
TOYS GROCERIES SMALL APPLIANCES, ETC. – If you paid with a credit card, debit card or check your bank or credit card company will likely have a record.