With all the recent bad weather in the UK, many people are now starting to go outside the house and surveying what, if any, damage has been done. Storm damage to your house may not be as evident and easy to spot as you may think.
Gale force winds, combined with driving rain and floods can wreak havoc on your home, so it’s worth taking a good look outside to see if anything is amiss or needs repair and replacement.
Every year, and not just here in the UK, storms and inclement weather causes millions of pounds of damage to homes, businesses, roads and railways so it’s important to know if your property has been affected and the steps you can take to remedy the damage at the cheapest cost.
In some cases, such as the unlucky home owners of the house above, it’s plainly obvious, but minor damage can sometimes go undetected, until the next batch of bad weather.
Stormy weather can be extremely destructive, ripping off roof tiles (or even entire roofs as I personally saw working for Wallcote in Hampshire in 1987), causing rivers to burst banks and the subsequent flooding, bringing down road signs and hoardings, scaffolding, trees and other structural damage, all of which has to be put right, and has to be paid for!
So what can YOU do if your home has been damaged by a storm or flood?
The first thing you should do is to not panic!
- Contact your insurer in the first instance.
Many insurance companies have a 24 hour helpline so call that first and explain what has happened. The company will usually be very sympathetic and will explain what you have to do next to make a claim.
If you do NOT have home insurance, you only have yourself to blame as repairing the damage could potentially cost you a fortune and in some cases bankrupt you and/or potentially leave your family homeless.
TOP TIP: It’s of vital importance that you have made copies of your policy and keep a copy in a very safe place, perhaps with a relative. You can also keep a note on your PC, or your mobile phone, of the helpline number and the policy, just in case your home is flooded and your paperwork is either destroyed or at least not accessible.
So what do I do next?
Check with your insurance company exactly WHAT is covered, and then ask the insurer what to do next, which may include taking photos of any damage and if you need some emergency repairs, such as roof repair, keep all invoices and receipts from any contractor you hire.
If your home has obvious structural damage, do not attempt to check the extent of the damage yourself, a loss adjuster from the insurers will do that and advise accordingly.
What do I look for if I think my house has suffered damage?
If there are no obvious signs, at first, of damage, take a good look at your walls, for any cracks that may have appeared, windows and doors that do not close properly any more and loose or missing gutters or pipes.
If the house has been flooded, then you need to start removing all carpets, emptying the fridge and freezer of damaged food and so on, and remember to take photos of each damaged item or area. If you were warned of flooding beforehand, hopefully you would moved objects off the floor or even to upstairs rooms.
If you can see your roof and chimney from the road, try and see if any tiles or slates have come away but don’t climb up there yourself, it’s very dangerous. Look at the chimney too, for missing chimney pots, bricks or even a bent or missing TV aerial. All this is usually fairly cheap to repair or replace but once again, I must stress, don’t try and do it yourself.
Check your gutters and drainpipes to see if any of them are missing, cracked or have come loose. These are quite cheap to replace so don’t worry about them too much, but be aware that the wind may have filled them with debris and blocked them.
TOP TIP: To see if your drains or gutters have become blocked by wind blown leaves or debris, get your garden hose and point the water jet upwards to try and full the guttering and then a few minutes later, make sure that water comes down into your drains at floor level. If not, they are blocked.
And if the house is uninhabitable, seek temporary accommodation with friends or neighbours, or ask your insurers if they will pay for you to be put up in a guest house or hotel while the damage is assessed.
Other points to think about.
It is worth getting a plumber in to check all drains are working, plus a gas fitter if you are concerned your gas pipes may have been affected, for example, by uprooted trees outside, as the roots can break pipes, and also dislodge electricity cables and phone lines.
Check your garden for damage to trees, shrubs and plants and maybe structures such as sheds or greenhouses. Again this is fairly easy to do and should be quite simple to replace if the storm has caused damage.
If your house had water damage, open all windows and doors and get rid of all items that have been affected. A house that has flooded may take weeks or months to fully dry out, so a dehumidifier can help the process, but will also eat into your electricity bill too.
Finally, stay safe, and do not take any risks and accept any offers of help that come your way.
If your home has been damaged by storms, don’t worry, don’t blame yourself, just get all the things needed to be done, don’t take any risks, quickly ascertain what is wrong and what needs fixing, prioritise accordingly and make sure your home is always kept in good condition to minimise it happening when the next band of wintry weather comes along.
- UK Environment agency flood helpline 0845 988 1188
- Northern Ireland flood helpline 0300 2000 100
- The Met office 0870 900 0100 (or) Exeter 01392 885680
- The federation of master builders 020 7025 2900
- The national federation of roofing contractors 020 7638 7663
Featured image (C) South leeds life