Many times when a person discovers a leak in their home and a plumber will come out and repair the problem. In the process a wall is often opened up to repair the leaky pipe. The owner may then ask the plumber, 'did you see any mold?' or 'should we do anything else?'. And many time the plumber may say 'I did not see any mold' or 'just let it dry for a couple of days and it will be fine' leaving the interior of the wall exposed. This situation is not a good one.
Let me explain. When a leak occurs by the time the owner notices the problem likely a significant amount of building materials have gotten wet such as drywall, wood sill plates, wood studs, baseboard and so on. However, this not always noticed by the naked eye and wetness or moisture will likely be present for days if not weeks and months to come and mold will start growing (within about a day or so) if the area is not dried quickly with the right equipment.
Keep this in mind; most plumbers as well as Handy Men (and just about all other tradesmen) have not been trained or certified in water mitigation (or water damage) and mold remediation (normally referred to as applied microbial remediation) which also includes category 3 water (that is water from a drain or 'toilet') also called 'black water'. As a result cannot properly advise you of what you should do. Some plumbers, though, have learned from water mitigation companies a thing or two and some even carry a moisture meter so they can at least advise the owner to take additional action. Many even refer a water mitigation company that they network with.
The point I am wanting to make is that you need a professional who has been trained to be able to assess the area in question after discovering a leak and can properly advise you. Of course, that is what I, or my company, does. You want someone who will put in writing what needs to be done, if anything, so you and your family are protected health wise and property wise.
When an event like water damage, fire damage or other type of insurance covered damage occurs who gets to do the repairs on your home? The reason this is brought up is simply that many are not really sure what to do when it happens. Many will simply follow what their insurance adjuster directs since they may have a network of companies they use to do needed repairs. While there is nothing wrong with this there are definite pros and cons of doing so.
But know that by state law the home owner has the right to choose who does work on their home. There may be some exceptions with HOA communities depending on the agreements you sign when purchasing a home or condo. An insurance company does not have the authority to direct who does work on your home or even to direct the work itself unless you allow them to do so. Some insurance companies or adjusters may be a little over zealous trying to save their company money and may want to tightly control everything which at times can be at odds with giving the home owner the proper service and repairs they deserve and need. Most adjusters have not been contractors although many companies are training their adjusters in the field of water mitigation and such so they are better equipped to deal with your claim.
Pros: The insurance company vendor can get the job done and coordinate with the insurance company easier and will get paid directly by the insurance company possibly leaving fewer things for you to worry about. They also have met certain criteria to be one the approved vendor list to get your or the company's work. In some cases one company can handle both the water mitigation ( or dry out) and the repairs provided you ask them to do both. When a company is on a 'Preferred Vendor' list of an insurance company (depending on that insurance carrier) will initially send the 'Job' to perform the water mitigation or dry-out but are not allowed to offer to do repairs unless the owner asks them to do so. This can be easier on the home owner using just one company as a 'one stop shop'. The insurance company many times will have an approved vendor list for repairs and simply send one of them out to do your repairs which can still have a similar effect of the 'one stop shop'.
Cons: Using an insurance company's 'approved vendor' creates a conflict of interest for the company performing the work. This is so because in a sense that company (because of their 'vendor agreement with the insurance company) is to some degree working for the insurance company and at the same time working for you, the homeowner. What happens when there is a conflict between what should be done to repair damages a certain way and what the insurance company directs the approved vendor to do? Well, that is obvious, is it not? The insurance company wins out which is often times not told to the home owner and is communicated only between the approved vendor and the insurance company. Could that be referred to as a type of collusion? Hmm....
A case in point: I once went to estimate repairs where one company had performed the water mitigation but also provided an estimate for the repairs as well. There was some damage to the faux painting on one wall just above the baseboard which normally requires re-fauxing the entire wall and even room since it is not assumed the owner has that same paint and the painter can produce a matching look with the existing faux finish. The approved vendor was estimating only to 'touch up' the damage to the faux paint apparently to save the insurance company money. Having been a painting contractor for 13 years I knew this was not the proper way to address the paint damage. I then informed the owner of what should be done and put in the estimate to re-faux the whole room in that instance which the insurance company did accepted.
The use of a quality contractor not on the 'approved vendor' list has advantages and possibly more so than the approved vendor. When I have met with home owners (when I worked for other companies) I inform them that part of my job is to make sure repairs are done properly and therefore I put in the estimate what should be done to accomplish that. So I was not hindered by 'vendor program rules' which restricts what the approved vendors could do. Of course, it does not mean I have a blank check but have a lot more latitude to negotiate with the insurance company to get the needed funds do to the job right.
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