Once you have lost your home to a fire you are nearly over come with grief and depression. Take time and heal but life moves on so must you. This is the time to make thorough decisions and use your insurance compensation wisely. Selecting your contractor is one of the most crucial and important decisions you make when your building your home. This is defiantly a relationship that is high risk and can be very stressful if not properly managed. You should be putting serious time and energy into finding the right person for the job.
I recommend that you bid your project out competitively, so you therefore need to compile a list of three to five, prequalified contractors that you want to bid on your project. You can begin to find good contractors by
- Talking to friends, family and neighbors
- Calling home equity lenders- They inspect work they are funding before they release checks, so they have seen a lot of job sites
- Calling a good residential architect
- Your local chapter of both the Home Builders Association and the Architects Association
- Property and real estate agents
- Anyone else who you think of that might use or monitor contractors on a regular basis
Interviewing Contractors and Checking their References.
Your best protection against disputes is to check the references of the contractor before you decide to even let them bid on your project. You want to find out absolutely everything you can about them. The key is to dig. Here is an list of questions you can ask references
- What project did you work on with this contractor?
- What was the original construction budget or cost per a sq foot?
- What was the final budget cost?
- How was the quality of the work?
- Was the site kept clean, in a safe and organized fashion?
- Was it a good working relationship between all parties?
- Where any of the crew members a particular asset or detriment to the project?
- Did the contractor pay his bills?
- Where there any liens filled against your property?
- was the project completed on time?
- Would you works with the contractor again?
- Other comments?
After you’ve determined which contractors you want interview, remember this now going to be a job interview. Just like any good job recruiter the key is to use interview strategies that will draw out the contractors view of the work. Here are some interview tips,
- Humility is important. In this instance the contractor usually knows a lot more than you about the subject matter. Try and get him to share his building experiences with you. A good strategy can be to frame questions loosely as if you are asking for advice. This might get him more comfortable and open up the dialog. It will also give you a good idea of how good he is at problem solving.
- If you think some of the answers you are getting are unclear, try to ask the question three different times, three different ways throughout the course of the interview. Often the third time asked you will get your right answer.
- Avoid questions that can be answered with one word, try to ask open ended questions that need to be answered with a long explanation.
- Make sure you listen, listen more than talking
- Try and get the contractor to talk about past problems, if you can, notice to see if he takes responsibility for his own actions
- Listen to see if he talks about references and a history of happy clients. Are there certain architects he always works with, or other clients he has a recurring relationship with.
You must remember that there is a big difference between a contractor who does remodeling and new construction. When you are building a house from the ground up, there is no existing conditions you need to deal with, these contractors will be good business people and run an efficient scheduled production line. Experience is key, and their ability to adapt under tight site conditions will determine if they lose money on your project. Generally speaking, if they lose money, so do you.
There is a perception that CAL FIRE’s cooperative agreement program is rapidly growing. The truth is that the number of agreements has remained between 145 and 150 over the last several decades. However, in this challenging economy, there is a rise in the number of inquiries from local governing bodies requesting information or proposals from CAL FIRE. Many of these inquires are just part of the local jurisdictions’ due diligence of assuring they are delivering the most cost-effective services to their residents. Public agencies are looking for models of good government and leveraging the financial benefits of working together to provide critical public safety functions.
From Cal Fire’s website.
Since the 1940s, local government entities such as cities, counties and districts have contracted with CAL FIRE to provide many forms of emergency services for their communities. CAL FIRE provides full-service fire protection to many of the citizens of California through the administration of 145 cooperative fire protection agreements in 33 of the State’s 58 counties, 30 cities, 32 fire districts and 25 other special districts and service areas. As a full-service fire department CAL FIRE responds to wildland fires, structure fires, floods, hazardous material spills, swift water rescues, civil disturbances, earthquakes, and medical emergencies of all kinds. Local governments are able to utilize this diversity and experience through their contracts and agreements with the Department.”
One of the hardest things to do after a fire is accepting help. People who you have never meet will greet you with open arms and other who have been your friends from the beginning will vanish.
Here is a list of people to get into contact with after the fire;
- Every family member
- your church
- schools and Allium
- the local paper
- other fire victims
to be cont….
Check your smoke detectors
This site for the consumer product safety commission is a must read. I know that sometimes it is easy to forget to check your detectors but it’s only a couple of minuets of your time. By doing this you could save your life.
After your home is fully secured with the rental fences and the fire department gives you the ok to salvage items in your home there is one more matter to think about.
After you home is burned down theses “sharks” will arrive outside your home in high-end luxury vehicles. The first time I was them was the morning after the incident. I looked down my block and could see a line of and foreign cars with men in sunglasses wanting to speak to my parents.
DO NOT TRUST THEM!
They will give you false hope and rob you of your money. For example, My father was approached by one stating that he could rebuild the roof at a fraction of the cost that a contractor would charge. What he will not tell you that he will use a crappy contractor and charge you 30% interest for helping you.
Let do the math to put things into prospective
roofing cost $10,000
plus 30% interest
This is where people lose money and make these sharks rich. Once you decided who your General contractor will be let him do the work for you. Your wasting money by using a middle man.
First thing is first, after the fire and dealing with the shock of your home burning down. It is important to secure your property.
because THEFT will become a major issue.
After my home burned down there was still items inside that could be salvaged. rings, gold necklaces, fixtures and items in the back yard like the BBQ grill or yard supplies. The first thing you should invest in is a fence! I know this should simple but it will save you grief down the road and will prevent your home from being vandalized.
here is a link to some company in the area that offer installations and reasonable prices.