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!