Hurricanes Throw Region’s Remodeling Industry Into Tailspin

Remodelers will be among the first called upon to start rebuilding

October 17, 2017
hurricane harvey, irma affect remodelers

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma displaced thousands, killed hundreds, and continue to send shock waves through the U.S. economy. The post-storm situation is especially challenging for local remodelers, who, as National Association of Home Builders economist David Logan points out in a recent blog, will be some of the first called in for repair efforts in Texas and Florida. And with Moody’s Analytics estimating that the combined property damages could be as much as $200 billion—not to mention exacerbating the labor shortage and, as Logan speculates, causing a spike in building material prices—the efforts will indeed be significant and exhausting. 

But those efforts will also be invaluable, according to Dan Bawden, 2017 NAHB Remodelers chairman and owner of Houston-based Legal Eagle Contractors. 

In a recent article for Professional Remodeler, Bawden empathizes with the hardships remodelers working in the affected areas will face, but tempers that with actionable advice, both intuitive and learned. “Call your trades early on and ask them to give your clients priority, if possible,” he writes, adding that it will be especially important to contact demolition crews, as well as painters, drywallers, and carpenters. He recommends that remodelers limit themselves to working in a specific geographical area; prioritize health- and safety-related issues; contact past clients who have handled a flood before for their input; and work with current and new clients to help them not only understand what it is they should expect, but also what they should be doing to help the process move along, such as having them contact a respected remediation company as soon as possible.

About the Author


About the Author


James McClister is managing editor for Professional Remodeler.

Comments

My company usually suffers from the winter slow down. My crew would be open to going to Florida, Texas, or even Puerto Rico to work for part or all of the winter months. How would I go about finding work in those areas?

Patsy, we checked with a couple of remodelers: Fernando Pages Ruiz (who is now doing insurance estimates in Miami) and Bill Robinson (in New Orleans) about getting involved in rebuilding efforts. 

Fernando says: Not in Florida, they are insured paying high prices. Miami is chock full of contractors from all over the south and northeast. It’s late to go now. If you want to volunteer, and have skills, I am sure you can find work in Puerto Rico.

And from Bill: We have been working with All Hands in Baton Rouge on a project. They seem to be a good group and have set up in Houston.

Fernando says: Most folks just go, but anyone that does should know that certain companies, especially roofers and tree removers, specialize in mobilizing into storm areas. A few – very few – insurance companies will recommend tree removers and emergency services. Most don’t anymore. Folks have money if they have been paid by the insurance, and contrary to popular opinion, the payouts are often generous. If there’s an issue with unseen damage, the insurance company will address it. However, many limitations exist in coverage and specific repair methods used, so the contractor must know these to avoid getting the homeowner in trouble. The contractor must also learn unit price estimating and invoicing, as insurance will not pay on a lump sum invoice.

Bill says:  The most important thing to understand is the building science is the “other way” here in a cooling climate. Take a few minutes to adjust your thinking here in the hot humid.

Fernando: Precisely (I think), most of the “green building” an energy codes derive from cold weather conditions and don’t apply to hot and humid, even as these same codes and building techniques are promoted indiscriminately in the south.

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