Building work and repairs for flood damage
Assessing the damage
If you have home insurance, the insurer may appoint a loss adjuster to inspect the property and assess the level of damage. You may also wish to employ a loss assessor to do an independent assessment and represent your interests.
Some structural damage may not be visible immediately after the flood. You should notify your insurer of any developing damage and you could request another assessment.
You may need to organise repairs under your insurance policy to a set budget or if you are not insured, choose and pay for the repairs yourself. See Making a claim for flood damage or If you have been flooded but have no home insurance.
There are some things to consider when you are organising repairs:
- get quotations from a number of potential builders. You can find builders online, in the yellow pages or by contacting the Scottish Flood Forum on 01698 839021.
- select a reputable builder that has been recommended to you by you insurer, local authority, the Scottish Flood Forum or a friend. Beware of rogue traders and scams
- ensure the builders are certified to do flood restoration work and are experienced in dealing with flood damage. You can ask to check their credentials and/or ask for references
- agree realistic deadlines for the work to be completed. You may be able to add penalties into the contract if the deadline is not met
- get a written contract and read it through carefully before you sign
- if you are paying for repairs yourself, prioritise repairs to making your home habitable so that you can save money on temporary accommodation
- can you oversee and manage the project yourself or do you need to employ someone to do this?
- if you own a property that shares common parts such as stairwells with other owners, you may need their permission or cooperation for repairs
- keep any receipts and contracts.
Your insurance company will probably organise for specialist cleaners to clean the property and throw-out contaminated items. Soft furnishings and other items that cannot be disinfected will be disposed of. You may want to oversee this process to ensure that salvageable items that can be disinfected, such as hardwood furniture, are not disposed of.
You should try to oversee the repairs as much as possible to ensure that repairs are completed to a high standard. If you are insured on a 'new for old' basis, the fixtures and fittings that are used should be the same quality as those that were originally installed. If you aren’t able to oversee the repairs, ask someone you trust to spend time at the property to oversee things.
If you are insured on a 'new for old' basis, the fixtures and fittings that are used should be the same quality as those that were originally installed. However, you could negotiate with your insurer about the installation of flood-resistant fixtures and fittings such as:
- water-proof plasterboard
- raised electrical sockets
- non-return valves in sewer pipe
The Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA) has produced a range of factsheets on improving the flood resistance of your home, available at www.ciria.com.
The Association of British Insurers has also produced a guide to resistant and resilient repair after a flood, available at www.abi.org.uk .
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 says that reasonable care and skill should be taken while working. If you don’t think reasonable care and skill has been taken with the work, you have some legal remedies under the law. For example, you could take the trader to court for compensation. See Problems with building work, decorating or home improvements.
Rogue traders may try to exploit a flooding event and cold call home owners. See how to spot a cowboy builder. They are unlikely to be appropriately trained and qualified in flood repair and it may complicate your insurance claim. In general, do not pay cash in advance and obtain signed receipts for all work done.