No one likes to think about the property damage that summer storms can cause in Oklahoma City, but having a game plan in place before you’re in the position of needing a contractor for repairs can reduce both your stress level and the timeline for getting repairs done.
Experts suggest having certain items on hand (radio, extra water, battery powered flashlights) in case a storm is particularly harsh and power is lost, and while a checklist for items you’ll need in the event of an emergency is important, it’s also a good idea to have an idea of the things you’ll need after things get back to normal and it’s time to take a look at your property.
Here are a few suggestions for property owners living in Tornado Alley during storm season:
- Awareness of your home’s appearance. It might sound silly, but many homeowners may not recognize minor problems if they aren’t aware of what “normal” looks like around their house, especially for first time homeowners. Familiarize yourself with all the different angles of your home, so that you can take note of small issues before they cause big problems.
- Familiarity with materials. It may not be easily recollected when you’re rushing to get repairs done, but a passing knowledge of the types of shingles, siding, and windows that you’ve used in the past might be helpful in determining what to look at—and how to compare quality—when the time comes to replace them.
- Reputable contractors. Being under the gun to get a roof or windows replaced isn’t conducive to checking out contractors fully. Have at least an idea of someone to call before there’s an emergency. Just as you have a dentist and your car has a mechanic, your home can benefit from a contractor. Windows get broken, the roof and siding gets damaged, and even if their visits are few and far between, a reputable contractor that you can trust is a valuable asset.
- Insurance Understanding. Don’t get caught off guard; put your coverage under the microscope and see what specifics are outlined in your policy before a storm hits. Knowing what you can and can’t expect from your insurance policy can make the process of getting repairs done more smooth, and can help your contractor understand how to help you best.
Time is of the essence after disaster damage, and one of the goals of a good contracting company should be to get a representative on site as soon as possible, and have your repairs done in a timely manner. Energy loss and water damage prevention are key, and a good contractor will make these a focus.
Assessing the damage and evaluating your insurance coverage is something else that a good contracting company should do, to make sure that all of the help you need is provided for, and covered by your policy.
Make sure that any contractor you hire has a good track record—references and credentials should be shared openly—and that contracts are clear and concise. Checking with the Better Business Bureau is one way of gauging a company’s reputation, and you can also check with the Oklahoma roofing registry ORCA (Oklahoma Roofing Contractors Association) by going to orcagroup.org.
Familiarity with your insurance coverage and the materials used in and on your home will save time as well; forestall any surprises by checking what’s covered and what isn’t before it’s necessary to replace or repair. Often, certain materials aren’t covered and others are. Knowing before a builder gets started what your coverage will provide for is key in preventing expensive starts and stops in your repairs.
Familiarity with your deductible (the amount you’ll be responsible for) is also advisable. You’ll need to know what you’re looking at before discussing terms with a contractor.
Another consideration when dealing with a contractor after a storm is whether or not they’re a local company. It’s not uncommon for contractors to follow storms across certain areas of the country, and while it’s not a disreputable practice in and of itself, it will limit your ability to have continuity in case you like the work. (Or need to get hold of them in case something goes wrong or needs following up.) Contracting a local company not only ensures that you can check references and trust that they have more than a passing knowledge of the ins and outs of Oklahoma weather, it also means that they have a stake in their reputation as part of a community. Before taking a chance on an out of town contractor to save a few dollars, consider how much could go wrong, and think of not only supporting local businesses, but preserving your connection with the person repairing your home, in case you need them again.
Don’t let storm season catch you unaware…be prepared!