As if restoring a home after a disaster isn’t a big enough headache, sellers need to be extra careful when preparing a disaster-struck home for the market
It’s not enough to just spruce up your lawn, take down that Star Wars collection and declutter that basement to ready your home for the market. If there are serious problems such as leaky roofs, mold or water stains from a flooding catastrophe, it won’t nab a buyer.
“Any material defects need to be corrected before the home is placed in the market,” says Walter Molony, spokesman for the National Association of Realtors.
Real estate brokers always recommend buyers and sellers to hire professional home inspectors. If serious structural problems become evident during these inspections, they become a deal breaker.
In the U.S., 49 states have mandatory property disclosures. Homeowners have to disclose all known material defects, and concealing problems is illegal.
“You really would want to take care of all issues up front,” Molony says.
According to Molony, homeowners can do the work themselves or hire contractors. Keep in mind, however, that home inspectors are typically well-versed in local building codes and if any of the changes are not up to snuff, they will notice.
Plus, many post-disaster repairs should not be attempted by amateurs, says Diane Krueger of Carl Krueger Construction Inc., a Milwaukee-based disaster restoration and remodeling company.
“For instance, a sewer backup can be a very unhealthy and dangerous problem to take care of yourself,” she says. “You want an expert to deal with it, because it could potentially be a health hazard for you and your family.”
The first step to address any disaster or remodeling issue is to get quotes and interview different companies. Homeowners should also check references and ask for an end report, so they have the necessary paperwork in case a potential buyer wants proof that the problem was fully remedied.
Here are a few common disaster-related remodeling issues:
• Fire and smoke damage: Repairing fire damage can be complicated; it’s not just one specific task, Krueger says. Problems can include water damage, smoke odor or issues with mechanical systems. It’s important to address these problems as quickly as possibly for insurance purposes, Krueger says. Ask your insurance company for referrals on contractors. Hire someone who has a track record of restoring fire-damaged homes to pre-disaster levels. Check for water loss, and make sure you secure your home of any valuables before allowing the professionals to work on restoration. Odor remover is a big priority in fire damage restoration projects. Make sure your contractor uses a deodorizer. Smoke odor can linger if not taken care of promptly.
• Water damage: Professionals use special equipment to assess water-related issues because water can permeate deeper than what’s visible. Make sure your contractor has equipment such as thermal cameras and moisture testing gadgets that can identify damage to hardwood floors, drywall and studs. Like any other damage, this needs to be addressed promptly, Krueger says. If left untreated, water damage could lead to mold problems. Some homeowners hesitate to disclose water loss, but home inspectors can always detect water lines, Krueger says.
• Mold: Fire and water damage, if not addressed promptly, could translate into a whole other problem: mold. “Almost 75 percent of the time, water damage turn into mold damage,” Krueger says. Some molds produce mycotoxins – if high levels are present, exposure could cause neurological problems and in some cases even death. If you are a victim of flooding, make sure you hire a mold remediation company to assess your home for any colonies. If mold is detected, hire a contractor who uses a dehumidifier and an anti-microbial solution. The first step to removing mold is cutting off moisture and eradicating the growth. It’s best not to try and address mold problems by yourself. Many times, the damage is so extensive that professionals have to use protective equipment such as respirators, eye protectors and impervious suits, which are not readily accessible to a homeowner.
© CTW Features