Should You Rebuild After a Hurricane or Just Move On?


There were eight hurricanes during the 2018 hurricane season and ten during the 2017 hurricane season. These storms cause billions of dollars in damage each year. If a hurricane damages your home, should you rebuild in the same place or move to another area? It is not a question with a simple yes or no answer. But we reached out to several experts to learn about some of the factors that can help you make an informed decision.

Damage and insurance level

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“A homeowner’s decision to rebuild after a hurricane will likely depend on how much damage they suffered to their property and how much of that will be covered by their insurance policy,” according to Peter Duncanson, disaster restoration expert at Restoring ServiceMaster. His company specializes in minimizing the impact of climate damage.

“Once it is safe to return and assess the situation, you should call your insurance agent and begin the process of filing significant damage claims as soon as possible.” However, be careful when entering your home for the first time after a hurricane. Duncanson recommends that you take several necessary safety precautions. “And be sure to wear protective gear, as broken debris and standing water can pose serious health risks in your home,” he says.

Another person with first-hand experience dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane is Robert Himmaugh, Manager of Acadian Windows and Siding in Kenner, LA. “Disaster can affect your home in many ways, but here along the Gulf Coast, our number one threat is hurricanes,” he says. “Every year from June to November, we are faced with the possibility of being in the direct line of one of these storms.”

Himmaugh also believes that the two deciding factors are the extent of the damage to your home and the type of insurance coverage you have. “If you have a policy that includes temporary living expenses and replacement cost, then rebuilding might be the best option,” he says. However, Himmaugh cautions that the rebuild could turn into a full remodel job. This is because most homeowners will want to upgrade rather than simply replace lost items. “If you decide to rebuild, be sure to invest in hurricane windows, a laminated glass that sticks together when hit with forceful force,” he suggests.

Flood zones

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Many homeowners don’t know that a standard insurance policy may not cover everything. “Flood damage often requires a completely separate policy, and water damage can be one of the main reasons you have to rebuild,” Himmaugh says. If your home has suffered significant water damage, be aware that it can lead to mold, rot, and complete deterioration of your home. “In this case, it is better to move forward rather than shoulder the massive expense that it will take to rebuild,” Himmaugh says.

Chelsea allard, Vice President of Design for Case Design in Charlotte, NC, agrees. She says dealing with water damage after a flood requires special considerations. “In some municipalities, it is illegal to build in a flood zone. Or you can, but at your own risk, as the property is not insurable, ”says Allard.

She does not recommend rebuilding homes and infrastructure in coastal areas that are constantly hit by hurricanes. “Building standards should be much, much stricter in coastal communities. I think the practice of continually building housing in vulnerable areas is immoral, ”Allard says.

Other factors

Nathan Outlaw is the president of Onvico, a construction company in Thomasville, GA. However, his company frequently works in neighboring Florida. They are currently restoring several homes in the Gulf that were destroyed by the last hurricane. In the photo above, you can see where the company started demolishing a house with water damage.

“I think a flooded house is worth rebuilding,” says Outlaw. “Typically, flood damage will not be so great that repair costs are higher than the value of the home in good condition.” He notes that since flooded homes tend to be near rivers, ponds, or the ocean, they are often in desirable locations. “This means that they will continue to be somewhere where people want to live in the future.”

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Outlaw’s opinion is supported by Richard and Judith Woods, owners of Albany Woodworking in Tickfaw, LA. In 2005, a New Orleans home he owned was flooded during Hurricane Katrina and they rebuilt it. And then in 2016, his family’s home was flooded during a storm.

They agree that the extent of damage and insurance considerations are important. But they also point to other factors. According to Richard, the most important question is: “Are you healthy enough to handle the stress of losing your home and the stress of navigating the complicated world of rebuilding after a disaster?”

He says the 2016 flood took a toll on him emotionally. Although he never considered no When renovating the house, Richard believes that it is important for people to understand reality. Rebuilding after a disaster is not the same as a project to transform your basement or design a modern new bathroom.

And if you’re not in a position to rebuild, Judith says it may be better to take the insurance money and move on. She also says that homeowners should weigh the possibilities of another hurricane. Also, they should consider whether they can get insurance if they rebuild in the same place.

Additional tips

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It is often difficult to think clearly after a hurricane. However, our experts say that there are a few things you need to do ASAP. “It can be devastating and overwhelming to process the extent of the storm’s impact on your property, but remember to take pictures of any damage you see. Also, take detailed notes for your insurance claim and personal records, ”advises Duncanson. “Once you’ve assessed the damage and salvaged what you can, the flood damage restoration experts at companies like mine can help you make the necessary repairs and get it back as quickly as possible.”

Outlaw agrees that it must take immediate action to mitigate future damages. “Homeowners should remove the water, install a dehumidifier, and remove the drywall and insulation, if possible,” he says. “Removing moisture and preventing mold will help make future mitigation costs more reasonable.”

Outlaw also recommends obtaining multiple quotes before performing any service. “A natural disaster tends to drive out contractors who just want to take the money and run, or who will overcharge clients for work done,” he warns. “Make sure you carefully review any proposal and don’t give anyone money up front.”


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