We have Standards, you know…….

In the past couple of months I’ve worked on two separate lawsuits where there is a dispute over “the standard of care” in a water damage.  One is in a neighboring state and is the result of an insurer denying a claim based on the opinion of a restoration contractor.  One of the questions in the case is whether the restorer was qualified to give an opinion and if the insurer used good judgment in relying on that opinion.  The second is a million dollar plus claim following a fire sprinkler discharge in  a hospital in the eastern US.  The quite literal million dollar question in dispute in this one is what work was reasonable under the conditions?Water damage before restoration

How would you know?  Isn’t it just a matter of sucking up some water and blowing air around until everything looks dry or three days, whichever comes first? It’s really not that simple.

The fact is there is a published standard describing procedures to follow after a water damage from a “clean” , “grey” or black” water intrusion in a building. There is also a similar published standard for dealing with a mold contamination in a building.  These standards are published by the IICRC (International Institute of Cleaning and Restoration Certification) and spell out what procedures shall , should, may and can be done depending on conditions at the site.

These standards guide competent and qualified restoration contractors in completing a water damage project, provide a framework of expectations for insurance companies and put shoes on the feet of the children of more than a few attorneys around the country when somebody thinks the restorer or insurer didn’t put things right.

The first water damage standard was written in the early 90′s and was 75 pages from front to back.  Basically, a group of  restorers and equipment manufacturers got together, wrote down and published what they thought should be done to address a water damage.  Many thought it was biased in a number of ways and it was less than universally accepted.

The third addition of that initial effort was published in 2006 and is 357 pages of standards and guidelines. It was the first edition to gain ANSI (American National Standards Institute approval.)  I have been a member of a group called the “consensus body”, updating the next edition standard for a scheduled late 2013 publishing.  We have been working on this rewrite for almost four and a half years and are almost ready to release it for peer review by the industry as a whole. After several months of comments (and written responses addressing each one of those comments) it will be published and will define the current “standard of care”. Immediately afterward a new consensus body will form and start rewriting for the next edition.

Who’d-a-thunk-it over a little water damage?