Water mitigation is the process of preventing or reversing damage caused by water in a building. When my house flooded, the insurance company sent out their preferred water mitigation company. Sadly they failed to follow the standard steps used to dry out a house quickly, resulting in mold!
Here’s what my house looked like when the water mitigation company arrived.
The water was substantially lower than the estimated 6 inches based on water marks found after the doors were removed. That’s because I had my neighbor (I was 1400 miles away in Maine) shut the water off. Then when my son got there and opened all the doors, the water escaped much faster … but still there were waves in the house.
Water Mitigation Step #1 – Remove the Water
This step is pretty basic and they squeegeed out most of the water. However, once the drying process was up and running, they failed to go back and find hidden water. It took me while to find and remove all the water missed by the water mitigation folks as I’ve never done this before … but they have?
Water Mitigation Step #2 – Water Extraction (Drying Out)
Where the mitigation folks failed in a very unprofessional way, was in their pretense at drying out the house. They claim (pun?) the insurance company adjuster told them “don’t touch anything”. However they do (should) know that fans don’t dry out what the air doesn’t reach. They brought in an excessive number (34) of fans and dehumidifiers. This equipment works well to circulate air and remove water from the air just like a dehumidifier.
The problem is you have to expose building materials with water damage to the circulating air … and they didn’t do that! They put 4 fans/dehumidifiers in the guest bathroom (above) but didn’t remove the toe kicks from the cabinets or baseboards. In fact they only removed 3 out of 10 toe kicks (below) in the entire house and even left 2 in place in the kitchen?
So instead of drying the house out in three to 5 days which is standard, the water mitigation team:
- Scammed (my opinion) the insurance company into paying rent for this equipment for more than two weeks.
- They used more than $40/day in electricity, adding more than $600 to my electric bill … still waiting for reimbursement.
- They created a situation where mold would grow and that’s simply wrong for many reasons.
What Does Water Mitigation Cost?
The insurance industry uses this old-fashion (written before the Internet) software package called Xactimate. It seems like every estimate is at least 20 pages, broken down to a level of detail that homeowners can’t decipher. Fortunately I ran a handyman business for eight years and find it rather intriguing putting the puzzle pieces together like Humpty Dumpty.
Taking Xactimate costs from the various estimates I’ve received in the last 6 weeks, here’s my estimate of what it would have cost to dry out my house in 3 to five days … and avoid the mold disaster.
- Cleaning technician non-business hours (added 50% to business hour cost) … 6 hrs @ $48.71/hr = $292.26
- Cleaning technician business hours … 8 hrs @ $32.47/hr = $259.76
At this point, I’m assuming these hours covered squeegeeing out water, putting furniture on foam blocks and setting up equipment. Here’s what they didn’t do using linear feet for baseboard installed in the house:
- Detach baseboard … 550 lf @ $0.94/lf = $517.
- Tear out wet drywall, no bagging … 550/lf @ $0.58/lf = $319.
Most articles I’ve read indicate that someone should be measuring the drying process on a daily basis. That way, if progress isn’t there adjustments can be made quickly. Unfortunately I trusted the water team and didn’t ask for daily updates. I know they only came back after 5 days to install a dehumidifier in the garage and 7 days later after I asked what was happening. Now I know this project was out of control from the outset but …
When I’ve asked for the water mitigation report (drying logs, moisture maps and detailed photos), no one will give them to me. The water team says I have to ask the insurance company adjuster. He said something like “I don’t think I have these … I only have the invoice”. This makes no sense as why wouldn’t you check the details before paying?
Rounding out costs if water mitigation had been done correctly.
- Dumpster (12 yds, 3 tons per Xactimate) … $440
- Equipment rental (my guess) … 5 days @ $200/day = $1,000.
- Moisture readings (my guess) … cleaning technician for 3 hrs @ $32.47/hr = $97.41.
- Removal of equipment (my guess) … cleaning technician for 2 hrs @ $32.47/hr = $64.94.
My estimated cost if water mitigation was done right … $3,044.37. Remember though, this is simply my best guesstimate with information I’ve collected to date.
Would you rather pay $3,044 to dry a house out quickly?
Or pay $30,000 for mold remediation?
Still searching for the answer …
PS In addition to drying out your house, you may need to deal with your insurance company for additional living expenses, personal property that was damaged (called contents, and to date I’ve only written about dealing with damaged artwork) and possibly mold remediation. None of this is easy so I hope my articles here will help you crawl through the mess a bit more easily. Good luck!
We always are proactive when doing a water loss. We always work for the property owner not the insurance.
Cabinets always get pulled, baseboards and vinyl cove is pulled, samples of drywall and joint compounds always taken prior to any surgical demolition.
Minimum drying set up is hole drilling drop ceilings under bathrooms and kitchen floors and always take moisture readings for structural wood materials. If it is severely damaged, we expose all structural surfaces and never tell a client 3-5 days. Usually it takes approximately 5-7 days but can exceed that depending on how the structural materials are assembled.
I follow up behind other people that dry out properties and find moisture 2-3 weeks after they completed the dry out. If they don’t have the proper field training and tools of the trade, they don’t know what they are looking for. Thermal camera, high end moisture meters and tools needed for selective surgical demolition.
Hessy, Yes, your summary sounds right for water mitigation … you might add raising furniture off the floor to dry out underneath (here’s mold where they missed).
Love your #days and OMG, I through the water mitigation people (their equipment really) out of my house after 2 weeks & things still weren’t dry … like the rug pad which had 43% humidity after 3 weeks?
Norma, Thanks for your confirmation of what’s needed when drying out a house after water damage.
Thank you very much. It seems these people have no rules to follow or any consequences if they screw up. I have no pictures or moisture readings for my wood floor that was removed. I have sheetrock holes everywhere. Every door frame will have to be changed out. This is why our insurance is so high.
Charlotte, Yes it sounds like you’re looking at a mess but it sounds like they did the right job. If they hadn’t, you might have ended up with mold if they don’t dry your home out correctly … which is what happened to me. If they’ve already removed your wood floor, it also sounds like they’ve accepted the damage so here’s where I’d suggest you focus:
The insurance company will give you a low ball offer. You will need documentation to fight & probably should get double or more than their first offer. Ultimately
Charlotte wrote back …
Thanks, i just can’t get any documentation or moisture readings from them. That would fix alot of it. Can’t get anything to provide to insurance on the way. He had pictures of the sunroom wall and moisture readings.
Charlotte, Did you hire the water mitigation company? If yes, tell them you won’t pay until you get all the documentation. If your insurance company hired them, you can try to fight but it’s unlikely you’ll succeed which is why I tell people to take photos at the same time anyone else is photographing things & capture all the moisture readings too. I followed the guy around the house & wrote down all the readings as they were taken … and if that didn’t work, I would have immediately gone to the store & bought a moisture meter to take my own readings which I did to track drying after I kicked them out.
Unless all the repairs have been done, you should be able to take photos of the damage – I too was promised photos but then the insurance company blocked me from getting them. Fortunately I’m a blogger & knew to take photos … hundreds of them.
My house (1370 sf) was water damaged. The mitigation company did zero cleaning,zero demo only packed and dried . They billed $64,500! The insurance said it was nearly 4 times the going rate. They are taking me to court because I don’t have the money to pay them. They now want $80,000. $100,000 by the end of the month. It’s price gouging at it’s finest,but what can I do about it? I’m so worried the judge will give them my home, I haven’t slept in days.
Mari, First I have to explain that I’m not a lawyer, so please don’t assume this is legal advice … which by the way varies based on what state you live in. Here are my ideas for you, along with some data to support your fight.
First let me go over the work that was done & what are reasonable costs:
Now let’s talk about how to deal with threats of taking you to court and you’re right, they’re being bullies to see what they can squeeze out of you. What I don’t understand is why your insurance company isn’t dealing with them because that’s their responsibility!
Best of luck with the journey ahead. There is a solution out there … you just have to find it.
Mari, Just rereading this and wanted to add one more point ..