Rebuilding and Renovating a Damaged Home

Any form of construction can be a lengthy process. Here are some starter tips to get started. Have any tips of your own? E-mail us.


Should I Rebuild?

There are several things to consider when deciding to rebuild or not. You will need to access the amount of damage to your home, if your home is still structurally sound, and the cost of rebuilding. Read through the following information to help guide you to a decision.

Rebuilding Estimates:

For a quick estimate of the amount to rebuild your home, multiply the local building costs per square foot by the total square footage of your house. To find out the building rates in your area, consult your local builders association or real estate appraiser. Factors that will determine the cost to rebuild your home:
  • Local construction costs
  • Square footage
  • Type of exterior wall construction - frame, masonry, or veneer
  • Style of the house (split-level, colonial, ranch)
  • Number of bathrooms and other rooms
  • Roof type
  • Attached garages, fireplaces, trim and special features

If you plan to rebuild, begin calling building contractors to come to your house to provide bids. Read our article “Hiring a Contractor” for starter tips and advice on the hiring process.

Before the Project Gets Underway

WHN STAFF TIP: Limited Contractor Resources

There may be a limited availability of contractors, builders, and building supplies depending on the extent of the storm and subsequent events.

  1. Get three bids on all parts of project.
  2. Create a budget and stick to it, tracking costs on a spreadsheet program or notebook.
  3. When discussing payment schedule, don't accept this answer: “need it at the end.” Ask for exact time frames for different phases.
  4. Plan to follow local building codes and ordinances.
  5. Design for function—think about how you live and what your future needs are. If you may need more electrical service or wiring, communication cables, plumbing or heating duct work, add it now.
  6. When looking at plans, measure out each room so you know its size. Go to real estate open houses, bring a tape measure and compare those room sizes to your plans.
  7. Plan ahead to avoid too many change orders.
  8. Take steps to reduce your risk of future storm-related damage. Mitigation includes any activities that prevent an emergency, reduce the chance of an emergency happening, or lessen the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies, such as installing lightning rods to carry the electrical charge of lightning bolts safely to the ground.
  9. Pick out appliances, fixtures, tile as soon as possible and check ship dates against installation dates.
  10. Allow only the insurance adjuster and the roofer you have selected to get up on your roof. Each time someone walks on it, more damage can occur.
  11. Be sure roofers have workers compensation and liability insurance. If they don't, you may be held liable if one of the workers is injured or if they damage a neighbor's property. Don't make final payments to the roofing company until your roof has been inspected by the city and you are satisfied.
  12. Don't let the builder rush you or demand last-minute decisions.

During Construction

  1. Visit site once a day or every other day and take pictures of progress.
  2. Paint colors on sheet rock, identify with room, tint name and brand, and store in closet or attic. When you need paint years later, you will have a sample.
  3. Look at paint in the morning, midday and evening light to make sure it looks right.
  4. Take pictures of interior before plastering or installing plasterboard to make it easier to locate wiring and plumbing.
  5. Give architect and builder instructions and change orders in writing. Make changes when the house is framed—after that, it's more expensive.
  6. Keep trash bags, work gloves, mosquito spray, camera, notebook and pens, and old shoes in your car for when you visit the work site.
  7. Insist that the work site is clean and the area and structure are secured from trespassers.
  8. Before insulation is added or walls finished, check all plugs and switches to make sure they're where they're supposed to be.
  9. When making decisions, compare initial purchase/ installation costs versus repair/ maintenance costs.
  10. Consider hiring an independent inspector to look at work.