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?
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?
We are lucky to have a dedicated, stable and well qualified staff. Once in a while, I’d like to introduce one of them to you. If you’ve done work with us, you may already know most of the folks on our team. If not, we thank you for the chance to show them off.
Brad Mantz is our senior estimator in the Wood River Valley.
Brad grew up in the farming and construction businesses in Winfield Kansas. He spent a lot of time helping in his father’s construction business. He started a part-time the cleaning business in college in 1983, then moved into the restoration industry with the purchase of a Purofirst Restoration franchise in 1989. He later sold this franchise. Brad has earned several industry certifications over the years and including a Level 3 Xactimate certification. He moved to Idaho with his wife Sarena in 2006 when he joined the team at REE-Construction. He and Sarena now enjoy the mountain lifestyle with their 3 boys (Ian, Ethan, and Bowen) and daughter Joey.
Brad is a a very careful and complete estimator. He has brought 30+ years of restoration experience to the company, in addition to the construction knowledge he gained from his father. He knows what it takes to Put Things Right!
I was in a the basement of an older house the other day and all of the framing and underside of the floor above was covered in old silver paint. It was obvious that some time in its past there had been a fire and (probably) heavy smoke throughout everything in the basement. Maybe it had an old coal furnace that malfunctioned or an oil burner that experienced a “puff back”. Coal or oil furnaces in residential property are increasingly obsolete these days, but when there is a fire there are still some who use methods from the coal/oil era to address the damage.
Thirty years ago, the state of the practice was to use techniques like thermal fogging to lay down a layer of reodorant at the start of a fire project and finish off by trying to cover any exposed framing with a coat of oil based paint and hope no body smelled smoke when you were done.
As the 80′s faded, and into the 90′s there were a few restoration contractors that began following a practice called source removal. This included a de-emphasis on trying to treat damage by sealing odors in or covering smoke smells with (stronger) more pleasant smells. The newer practice involved more complete removing of the visible residues and source of the odor by emphasizing detailed cleaning and introducing techniques like abrasive blasting using soda or dry ice to remove residue from framing and sheathing. Any sealing that was done was minimal and accomplished with clear products to avoid the appearance of covering up damage.
While this evolution in restoration was happening, property inspections were becoming increasingly common. Buyers and banks were becoming more particular about the history of a building, what might have happened during its life and what was done to correct it. Source removal is a quantum leap toward restoring a property to its pre-loss condition.
We know there are still some who think that painting the attic or the crawl space white is “restoration”. Some even try to “remediate” mold the same way. We also know that when the time comes to sell a property, the real cost of the cover up may present itself in a buyer walking or an expectation of a discount in the price of a property. The question of diminution in value has been litigated in several states, with mixed outcomes.