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DIY vs. Professional Fire and Water Damage Restoration

August 23, 2023

If fire or water has damaged your home, one of the first things you will think about is how to restore your home to its former glory. Do you do it yourself, or do you hire a local damage restoration contractor?

There are some benefits of going the DIY route, but the advantages of hiring a professional restoration contractor are far greater.

Repairing Your Home on Your Own

Before deciding how to proceed, it’s important to understand exactly what it is you need to do.

If your home has been damaged by fire, you will have to take some or all of the following steps:

  • Make sure the home is safe to enter.
  • For insurance purposes, document the extent of the damage by taking photos and videos.
  • Board up windows and doors.
  • Go through your personal property and secure items that you wish to save, such as photos and other memorabilia.
  • Thoroughly clean and deodorize affected areas to remove the smoke smell and residue.
  • Assess damages and then replace or repair electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems as needed.
  • Contact utility companies to have utilities restored when it is safe to do so.
  • Once the most urgent matters are completed, you will need to determine if you need extensive repairs to your overall home; if so, you may need to obtain permits and inspections before you can proceed.
  • As you are completing your modifications, make sure you implement fire safety measures, such as including an escape route and working fire alarms.

If your home has been damaged by water, steps you may be required to take include some or all of the following:

  • Assess the extent of the damage.
  • Make sure it’s safe to enter the home. Turn off the electricity and gas supply. Be sure to wear protective gear to avoid contact with contaminated water or mold.
  • Remove any standing water.
  • Dry out the affected area.
  • Sanitize and disinfect the home.
  • Address the issue that caused the damage before making structural or cosmetic repairs.
  • Dispose of damaged items and remove and/or repair any damaged drywall or other structures.
  • Document the damage for insurance purposes.

There are some advantages to repairing water or fire damage on your own, including possibly saving on costs and being able to take care of the repairs on your own time. However, even these benefits could backfire.

A ceiling damaged by a water leak.
Restoring a home after fire or water damage can be dangerous in many ways and requires expertise, so many of the issues must be addressed by professionals.

Benefits of Hiring a Professional for Fire and Water Damage Restoration

As you may have guessed, most, if not all, of the steps after fire or water damage would require the assistance of a professional – right from the first step of making sure the home is safe to enter. Only a skilled fire damage restoration professional, fire marshal, building contractor, inspector or similar professional would be able to thoroughly assess the safety of a home, such as recognizing weak floorboards or roof beams that may collapse.

Not taking necessary precautions or heeding these warnings could be very dangerous. For example:

  • If a door in your home is jammed after a fire, don’t force it open. It may be providing support to the rest of your home, as noted by the American Red Cross, so forcing it open could therefore result in serious injury and further damage to the home.
  • In many cases, you may wish to turn off the electrical supply to your home, but if there’s standing water around those outlets, you could be putting yourself at risk of electric shock.
  • Moving damaged items, such as furniture, could be dangerous because parts could fall off, wood or nails could cut you, chemicals could aggravate your skin and so on.
  • Gas leaks or damaged power lines could lead to explosions, fires or injuries.

It’s also important to note that repairing surface damage without getting to the root cause could lead to another incident, more extensive damage and possibly even endanger people and pets.

Fire and water damage restoration professionals are trained to recognize these dangers, and they would already have the necessary safety gear on hand to protect themselves. If you try to do it yourself, you will be required to purchase safety gear, equipment and tools, which may reduce the amount of money you would be saving by choosing DIY over hiring a contractor.

In addition to the restoration contractor, you will likely need to have a fire marshal assess the property for safety, and you would need to have utilities professionally restored. In other words, many of the necessary steps actually require the help of professionals, so you can’t do it on your own.

Long story short, it’s a very complicated job with many layers. Allowing professionals to restore your home after water or fire damage ensures that the dangers are recognized, the full extent of the damage is assessed and that repairs are completed thoroughly.