Tag : fire damage

6 years, 8 months ago 0

Don’t buy insurance.  You hear people say it all the time.  They think nothing will ever happen so it’s just a waste of money.  Luckily, I’ve never believed that so when something finally did happen to one of our rental properties, insurance was in place to cover the loss.

The loss was substantial too.  A grease fire while cooking breakfast is not an ideal way to start your morning.  Most of the damage was in the kitchen, den and hallway but the rest of the house was black from smoke and soot.  After going through the claims process with the insurance adjuster, it’s now time to put the house back together.  This is nowhere near the size and scope of the the fire damaged house on Wolf Den we did two years ago so we should be able to knock it out quickly.  Check out the pics below and watch the video to see more.

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8 years, 5 months ago 1

If you are a real estate investor, you may come across a fire damaged house.  What do you do?  Wether it’s a small fire or a large one, many investors will be scared off but if you know how to clean and repair the damage, you will have the courage to buy the property at a rock bottom price.

If you do buy a fire damaged house, your two main concerns will be replacing anything that was damaged and making sure there is no lingering smoke smell after you make your repairs.  I’ve documented the cleaning process with videos and pictures to inform you of the process for getting the house back into livable condition.

Check out these four videos to get an idea of the condition of the property prior to the start of smoke and soot cleaning:

Day 1

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdPn8kbfQWo]

After interviewing three fire damage cleaning crews, I chose a company called PuroClean, which I had previously used to clean mold on another rehab.  Day 1 was all about prep work.  They removed cabinets, removed all the sheetrock nails in the studs and tested different cleaning materials on different surfaces to determine the best cleaning strategy. 

To sum up the desired strategy for cleaning a fire damaged house: remove all the loose soot, ash and debris from every surface in the house, then encapsulate every square inch of the house with special paint to trap in the smoke smell.  The biggest problem is that smoke, like mold, can be anywhere.  It can penetrate every nook and cranny in the house and it can get behind walls and in the insulation.  That’s what makes the clean up process so difficult.

Living Room Picture

Master Bathroom Tub

We replaced the burnt wood with new on the left.  Pretty easy to tell what we replaced and what we kept.

Check out the smoke on the walls behind where the cabinets were in the kitchen.  This is why you have to take them down.  Otherwise, there is now way to clean and encapsulate it.

 

Day 2

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnOuRaX-Dvc]

The second day was really the first day of actual cleaning.  Some of the ceiling joists were scrubed down using a combination of special dry sponges and wire brushes.  The bathrooms cleaned up pretty well, especially the tubs and toilets.  Plastic was laid out over the attic floor in preperation for blasting the roof decking with sodium bicarbonate.  This process is almost like sandblasting or pressure washing.  It works really well on plywood like surfaces as well as surfaces that have a lot of nails you can’t remove, like roof decking.

We tried to save the cabinets but had to remove them.  The finish was blistered and the particle board was falling apart.

The master bath tub cleaned up very well.

Plastic laid down in attic in preperation of blasting the decking with sodium bicarbonate.

 

Day 3

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AKLAZHDjP4]

The third day showed major improvement.  Blasting the decking and wood with sodium bicarbonate really was an effective method to remove soot and ash but it sure is a messy job.  That stuff gets everywhere but the results speak for themselves.  They got most of the house done in one day.

A 50 pound bag of sodium bicarbonate

 

Day 4

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bIWoD333Sw]

The sodium bicarbonate blasting was finished on this day and then the clean up began.  As I said previously, that stuff gets everywhere and it has a sand like texture.  Anyone who has ever tracked sand into their house knows how difficult it can be to get it all cleaned up so I definitely felt sorry for the guys on this one.  The clean up took most of the day and went into Day 5.

The machine used to blast the sodium bicarbonate.

Here is a picture of the rafters and decking after being blasted with sodium bicarbonate.  Compare this picture to the one shown in Day 1.  Huge difference.

The plastic laid down on the attic floor was used to catch the sodium bicarbonate.  This made the clean up much easier.

 

Day 5

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyIp95NFS8o]

The last of the sodium bicarbonate was cleaned up and the encapsulation was begun.  Encapsulation is the process of spraying everything with odor blocking paint to trap or encapsulate the smoke smell. 

Upstairs bedroom after encapsulation.

One of the multiple products used for the encapsulation.

 

Day 6

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1Asah8d-PQ]

More encapsulation work was done today.  By the end of the day, the interior of the house looked like a “white palace”.

Compare the living room picture after clean up to the Day 1 picture.

The bathrooms cleaned up very well but now I don’t like the tile.  Just might change it out.

Kitchen after clean up.  Compare to Day 1 picture.

 

Day 7

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPb5Nk3VwWE]

The last day of the project was mostly a day for touch ups and final cleaning.  Windows were wiped down, trash was hauled off and extra materials were loaded up.  Now that its all finished, we can now put the place back together starting with HVAC work, rough plumbing and electrical.

Attic picture after encapsulation.

Another attic picture after encapsulation

 

Summary

Cleaning a fire damaged house doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming.  The most important thing to remember is that once you go to the expense of putting the house back together, it cannot smell like smoke.  If there is any doubt that something won’t clean up, then replace it.  In fact, your local building code will dictate when burnt wood framing needs to be replaced.  Whatever you don’t replace, make sure it gets cleaned and encapsulated.  After that, it’s just a standard renovation.  Good luck!

Mark Anderson

Lucky A Properties