There are many reports in the media that it often takes a year or more for flooded properties to be dried and repaired before the householders can move back in. In most cases there is no reason why a property cannot be dried and repaired within 4-6 months. The cause of the long delay in moving back into a previously flooded property is often down to mismanagement by insurance companies and loss adjusters(who are paid by insurance companies to manage insurance claims), who insist on having a panel of their “approved contractors” to dry buildings and repair them. Many of these “approved contractors” have a vested interest in prolonging the drying out process in order to profit from the hiring out of dehumidifiers and drying equipment to the insurance companies. This long drying out time is very often totally unnecessary and simply adds to the massive disruption to householders and adds thousands of pounds to the repair cost. This has an effect on the future insurance premium costs and the size of any future policy excess.
Some of these “approved flood restoration contractors” are in fact carpet and upholstery cleaning franchises that have re-invented themselves into property drying “experts ” When there is no significant flooding occurring they go back to cleaning carpets ! Additionally because of the scale of the property repair work that is required, the “approved builders” sometimes end up sub-contracting to anyone who offers to do the work cheaply ( and often shoddily with no recourse to any guarantee) Too often repairs to flood damaged buildings are undertaken by general builders with little or no understanding of the long term effect that can be expected when buildings get wet.
The insurance companies should instead take a more professional approach to building drying and repairs by using companies that specialise in the damp proofing of buildings all year round. There are many damp proofing companies whose reputations can be verified by their membership of a trade organisation such as the PCA (Property Care Association) or Checkatrade, Checked And Vetted etc. These companies also offer insurance backed guarantees which are essential should the work fail in future years.
When a house is flooded by contaminated river or drain water the general procedure is to sanitise all hard surfaces and then strip off plaster to 300mm above the highest point of flooding. There then follows a period of drying out which need only take 2-4 weeks but is frequently extended into 6 to 9 months or sometimes more by profiteering”approved contractors ”
It is not necessary for walls to be fully dry before they are re-plastered if the re-plastering is carried out to a damp proofing specification as follows: An application of sterilising wash followed by two applications of anti-sulphate. This is then followed by a salt retardent render using 3 parts washed sand and portland cement and a tanking coat. When this is dry the wall can be rendered again with a salt retardent render and then plaster skim coat. This tanking system will prevent dampness within the body of the wall penetrating the new plaster whilst at the same time allowing the masonry to breathe and dry out allowing decoration to be made earlier, but bear in mind the plaster will only be drying from one direction. (The technical plastering procedures above have been abridged but details are available from Ambient Presrvation
This system also greatly reduces the cost and inconvenience of re-homing the householders and saves thousands of pounds in dehumidifier and drying equipment hire costs.
The joists beneath suspended timber floors will dry out naturally if there is a good through flow of air from air bricks and solid concrete floors again do not need 9 months of drying with dehumidifiers as they can be retrospectively damp proofed by appying a 2 coat epoxy resin damp proof membrane, which will cost about a tenth of the cost of drying it and about 2 to 3 days to complete.
Finally if you have been flooded and have had a contractor appointed to carry out work by your insurance company you should bear in mind that you have the right to see the quotation for the work to be carried out and the right to seek quotes from other independent contractors. You should also check the references of all companies that are providing quotations and ask for insurance backed guarantees.
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