How long do repairs to your home take after a fire or flood?

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If your property is damaged in a fire or flood, it’s devastating. While your home insurance is there to get you back on your feet, there’s a lot to consider in the weeks, months and even years following an accident. Where will you live while the repairs are carried out? How long will it be before you can move back home? Let’s take a look.

Fighting fire damage

Fire causes a range of damage, from charred interiors, to soot and smoke damage. On top of that, the materials used by the fire service to put out the blaze can, while necessary, cause further harm to your property, including chemical and water damage. How long this takes to repair will depend on the extent of the fire and the damage it’s caused.

Fires that are put out quickly in a contained part of the house will be faster to repair and may not take too long to restore. But a fire that lasts longer or has spread further could cause your home to be unstable – if not mostly destroyed – and it will be a lengthy process to make it habitable again.

You will need help from a range of specialists, including:

  • Fire restoration professionals to clean, decontaminate and restore your property
  • Architects and surveyors to plan your rebuild
  • Contractors, engineers and decorators to carry out the works and add final touches.

The process of assessing the damage, planning the repairs and rebuilding the structure can take months at the very least – and for high-value and complex houses (especially listed), it could take many years. You will need to find somewhere to live in that time, and a good high-value home insurance policy can cover the costs of alternative accommodation.

That’s why it’s important to consider a realistic timeline for repairs to make sure you have enough cover. Always take into account the size of your property, the materials it’s made from and how quickly a fire could spread, to give you an idea of potential damage – and how much it could cost to rent a temporary home similar to yours if it takes a long time to reinstate your home.

What about water?

With changes in climate causing more unpredictable weather, there has been a rise in severe flooding cases here in South Africa. The damage to your home from a flood can be extensive – and it may take longer than you think it get your home back to normal.

Your first step is to move into alternative accommodation, and your insurer will help with this. Next is assessing the damage and planning the repair work. You’ll be supported by your insurer, who may appoint a loss adjuster to oversee the works.

You will also need:

  • Specialist cleaning and drying companies to salvage your personal belongings and dry out your home, including specialist drying equipment
  • A surveyor to plan and oversee any major structural works
  • Professional builders to carry out the repairs or rebuild
  • Decorators to add the final touches

How long the process takes will depend on the severity of the flood – just the process of drying out your home could take 10 weeks or more, before you can even assess the extent of the damage. And for larger homes there will be more damage – meaning a longer repair time.

You may not be able to return home for at least six months, which could stretch to a year or more – so it’s especially important that you have enough alternative accommodation cover to keep you covered for the duration.

Be prepared – just in case

No one wants to be in a situation where they have to leave their home due to fire or flood. The upheaval and uncertainty can be deeply distressing – so it’s important you have the appropriate cover to make sure you can live elsewhere with peace of mind.

We know every home is different, so the timeline for extensive repairs will vary significantly. It’s always sensible to consider how long it would take to restore your home and make sure you have enough cover for alternative accommodation, so you won’t be left out of pocket.

At Socovered, we offer alternative accommodation cover as part of our high-value home insurance, giving you the reassurance that you have enough cover to last the time it takes to restore your home.

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Sebolelo Mhlongo

Relationship Manager
tel: 010 109 4015