How to protect your home during and after a hurricanePrepare for high winds and flooding; beware of scam artists post-hurricane

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season has officially begun. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts a 70% likelihood of 10 named storms this summer, of 8 of which could become hurricanes. The peak storm months are not until August through October, so there’s still plenty of time for homeowners to prepare your home.

While there’s no current means of predicting where these storms will occur, it’s likely the Savannah area will experience at least one major weather event before the season concludes. Hurricane Matthew knocked out power to more than 250,000 customers in the Lowcountry region, and caused extensive damage to homes and properties.

What can you do to prepare?

Typical damage from high winds and flooding include roof leaks, tree damage, water intrusion through old or poorly sealed windows and doors, and flooding in homes that are near rivers or the ocean due to storm surge. If electrical power is cut off, further damage can result from high humidity.

Before the peak season occurs, check your homeowners’ insurance policy to ensure adequate coverage for tropical storms or hurricanes. Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare plywood sheets for your windows, or have special shutters installed. Cut dead or weak trees that could fall onto your property and find secure storage for any outdoor items such as patio furniture or trash receptacles. Consider securing your garage door against high winds by installing hurricane-rated doors or investing in a bracing kit (these may be eligible for a discount on your insurance).

Check door and window seals, both caulking and rubber insulation. Secure all loose shingles and siding where wind could get underneath and lift. Look at vent stacks, chimneys and flues where they exit through your roof and make sure they will resist water entry.

If your home is need of repairs after the storm, Nichole Hearn of Empire Construction offers a few challenges faced by professionals:

  1. Removing trees or other objects that have fallen on a house without causing any additional damage to the house or causing injury to the people removing it.
  2. Downed power lines and electrical connections that may still be energized.
  3. Potential damage to sanitary lines
  4. Damaged gas lines
  5. Trying to determine structural integrity after being hit by trees or debris.
  6. Helping customers negotiate insurance claims

Beware of Post-Hurricane Scams

Homeowners should watch out for unscrupulous companies who troll neighborhoods and communities after a hurricane with false promises of cheap, quick fixes.

According to the Better Business Bureau, being prepared for bad weather includes knowing what to do when repairs are needed. “We often see the generosity of total strangers who reach out to lend a helping hand to those in need. Unfortunately, this is also the perfect opportunity for scam artists to make some quick cash at the consumer’s expense.”

Tim Cook, head of security for The Landings in Savannah, says one of the most prevalent issues is post-storm mitigation services such as construction and tree removal.

He suggested resisting the urge to give in to the pressure of having the work done immediately.

“Get at least two, if not three, bids for the same scope of work,” Cook said.

Critical to satisfactory service is comparing at least two bids if not more, which of course takes more time.  In your interview with each contractor, ask about the people who will have access to your property- if they have background checks and so forth. And, he adds, “Even with trusted contractors do your due diligence and search local civil court records and BBB ratings and complaints.”

Hearn said Empire Construction’s philosophy is to exceed the expectations of their customers, ensuring complete satisfaction. To do this, they make sure their customers understand everything.

“Never sign anything you don’t fully understand,” Hearn said, adding that it’s a good idea to make it a policy to use a trusted local contractor who is licensed and insured.

Be very suspicious of a “contractor” who appears to be going door-to-door in your neighborhood. Mold, for instance, is not something to cut corners with, especially if any residents have breathing problems or allergies.

Before peak hurricane season occurs, get to know a trusted local construction company. Some have preferred customer lists. In the event a hurricane damage, your home will top their list. Even if this hurricane season proves to have minimal impact, it’s a good idea to schedule a construction professional to visit your home and provide much-needed maintenance to your house, said Hearn.

Be patient. It’s less costly to wait for a licensed and bonded contractor than to be manipulated by a scammer who leaves you hanging or does shoddy work that someone else has to undo and start again
As stressful as a hurricane is, it can be just as worrying to trust your home repairs to an unqualified company or person who cares little for your well-being. This summer, be aware and be safe. Peace of mind is yours when you are armed with information that will save you a lot of aggravation later.

Contact Empire Construction before peak hurricane season so you aren’t scrambling to find a trusted construction company that will make your home a priority. Call Empire Construction at 912-335-3881 or visit empire-builds.com