I’m not saying that it we don’t sometimes enjoy the joke when someone does something that others nearby may deem inappropriate (“Here, pull my finger”). I always wonder why some people can pull off that being inappropriate thing and make it seem so cute, just a little eccentric or adorably curmudgeonly. But that is a discussion for another blog post. This blog is about how responding appropriately is an important principle in damage restoration.
This is the “give a man a fish” vs. “teaching a man to fish” moment for the damage restoration contractor and their staff. When the question is asked “why did you do that?”, the explanation of why someone thought an action was appropriate is a good place to drill down.
The old joke is that all it takes to dry out a water damage is to put two fans and a dehumidifier in the place and come back in three days after it’s dry to pull the equipment out. That’s “how” you dry a building. Unfortunately too many “professional” restoration contractors don’t understand why they should consider any other options.
The truth is that while there are certainly some common scenarios that we encounter, if all we consider is how rather than why we take the actions we take, we would deserve to get body parts in a wringer when things go awry on a project. It is also true that what may be the appropriate action to take in a 30 year old mobile home might not be the appropriate action to take in a custom finished home which might not be appropriate in action in a medical facility which might not be the appropriate action in….and on and on. Of course the rub comes when we start making value judgements of what is appropriate. One person’s funny story over dinner with friend may be another person’s off color joke in front of the congregation at church on Easter Sunday. The principle is to take into consideration the circumstances and the conditions presented and then, based on one’s experience, education and training; make a judgement as to what is appropriate in this situation.
We recently had a situation where a hardwood floor was impacted by a sewer backup, the owner was out of town, there were questions on coverage, the owner’s insurance agent was saying to do the minimal amount required and the insurance company didn’t respond to the site for five days. Our technician at the site knew that the sewage damaged floor should come out, but was told specifically not to remove it until the adjuster had inspected it and coverage was established. He knew that if he didn’t take some action that the water would continue to damage the floor so that even if someone was willing to live with a sewage contaminated floor it would be swollen and probably have mold growth as an additional contaminant from sitting unaddressed for several days. He was faced with a bad choice of (1) deciding to do nothing and letting it pose additional risks to the health of the occupants,(2) setting up containment and taking steps (spend money) to start aggressively drying a contaminated floor that would probably be torn out anyway, (3) just tearing out the floor against the instructions of the agent and risk it not being covered or (4)?. When asked why he did what he did there was obviously not a right answer that fit all of the materially interested party’s agendas in this case, but there was a wrong answer and that answer would have been “I don’t know”.
We believe that, even though second guessing has become something of an art form in damage restoration, assessing the situation and attempting to discern, then taking the appropriate action under the circumstances is the third principle of a successful restoration project.
(If you wonder how the job ended up, send me an e-mail at reecon@the-restorers and I’ll give you the details.)