Water damage is a major cause of home insurance claims and can be very costly to repair. Damage caused by weather, storms, leaks, and floods is rising. According to the Insurance Information Institute, one in 50 insured homes has a water damage or freezing claim each year.
- The factors that impact the cost of water damage repair include the type of water involved, the area of the home that was damaged, and whether the water caused any mechanical issues.
- You can control costs to some extent when it comes to labor and parts.
- If your home insurance covers water damage, you may only have to pay the deductible.
Cost Factors for Water Damage Repair
Depending on where the water damage occurs, the costs of repair will vary. You need to take into account several factors, including size of the affected area and materials that will need to be replaced or restored. Home insurance may cover several types of water damage depending on the cause. In any water damage situation you have to add three sets of costs to understand the total sum of your water damage repairs:
- Cost of water removal, cleanup, ventilation, and decontamination
- Cost of building and structural repairs
- Cost of replacement or cleaning of personal property and mechanical equipment
Other Factors Impacting the Cost of Repair
Costs of water damage repair will vary depending on several factors, including:
- Where you live
- The cost of labor and materials in your area
- The type of water damage (clean water, grey water or black water)
- The extent of damage
- Repair with new materials or attempt to restore older materials in your home to maintain the original structures. For example, in the case of an old wood frame window, will you restore the wood in the window frame or will you replace it with new aluminum windows?
Types of Water and Associated Damage Costs
The type of water that entered the home also affects the cost of repairs:
- Clean Water Damage: Caused by water that is "clean" coming from a water pipe or rain. The cost for this may be estimated at $3.75 per square foot, according to FIXR, a vendor-independent, cost-estimating database.
- Grey Water Damage: Caused by water coming from an appliance. It may have soaps or other chemicals in it that need to be treated as part of the cleanup. The cost for Grey Water Damage remediation may be approximately $4.50 per square foot.
- Black Water Damage: Water coming from a contaminated source like a sewer backup. Water coming in through sewer pipes can have harmful bacterial and is hazardous to health. Cleanup after a sewer backup or another black water incident could be $7 per square foot.
Repairs After Water Damage
There are several steps to a cleanup. For damage occurring inside a home, the first four stages before repair or reconstruction even begins can also be very costly, easily adding a few thousand dollars in a situation where the home has been flooded with water.
- Stop water from coming into the home
- Perform necessary safety measures
- Ventilate and demolish affected areas
- Clean and remove debris
- Reconstruction or restoration can now begin.
If damage is extensive and there's no other place to live during the restoration, establish a "clean room" with separate access. However, children should not be in the home.
Delaying repairs after water damage could end up costing thousands of dollars more because water damage costs escalate rapidly if floors or walls are not dried out quickly. Standing water outside the house can be equally costly. If the foundation of the home is compromised, you're looking at an extra $11,000 on average to keep the home stable.
Cleanup After a Basement Flood
If a sewer backup or water floods your basement, you might have to pump out the basement before you can get started on repairs. The size of the affected area is key in determining costs, but an average for a basement with standing water more than one inch deep is upwards of $4,000 for the water removal.
Don't try to clean it up yourself. Water seeps into every possible space and crack, creating the potential for mold if not handled properly.
It is always best to call in a professional to determine the extent of damage. They can work out a plan for what needs to be done to restore your home and prevent mold damage.
Typically before you even get to the reconstruction of the parts of the home that are damaged, experts will:
- Pump out the basement using vacuums and suctions
- Dry out the basement using specialized ventilation and by opening areas in walls and floors (including removal of baseboards and possibly flooring)
- Put special treatments on the structure to prevent mold and pest infestations
Sample Costs of Building Repairs After Water Damage
These estimated costs will vary by location, but here are some ballpark examples to give you an idea of some of the very basic costs of rebuilding your home after a water damage claim. These costs are in addition to the cost of removing the water:
- Replacing damaged drywall: $1.40/sq.ft.
- Repairing damaged plaster walls: $6.25 - $18.75/sq.ft.
- Refinishing hardwood floors: $10.45/sq.ft.
- Replacing carpets: $4.70 - $5.50/sq.ft.
- Woodwork: $70 an hour for carpentry work
- Mold remediation: $5/sq.ft.
It is important to note that mold damage is not covered by many home insurance policies.
Mold remediation can be a costly and complicated process that includes moisture control, assessment, and containment of areas with mold to prevent additional contamination from spreading spores.
Sanitation of the home after repairs can also be expected, using specialized tools such as fogging equipment, air scrubbers, or antimicrobial treatments at additional costs.
What to Repair or Restore After Water Damage
Besides the building structure itself, which can be damaged, there are several other components to fully repairing and re-establishing your home after water damage.
- Mechanical components: Check ventilation, air conditioning, heating, electrical, plumbing, and other appliances.
- Personal property: The type of water that entered your home (clean water from a rainstorm or black water from a sewer backup) will impact how much personal property can be saved.
Housing Costs Related to Water Damage Repairs
Depending on where the damage has happened in your home, you may also have to factor in the costs of living expenses to live elsewhere while your home is being repaired.
Fortunately, most home insurance policies cover costs associated with having to stay in a hotel or temporary home if yours is made uninhabitable after a water damage claim.
These costs can add up to a few thousand dollars if the time to make repairs takes weeks or months. Having to leave your home while water damage is repaired is common after a disaster level claim.
Home Insurance For Water Damage Repairs
Home insurance covers many different types of water damage. Your home insurance company has experts who are used to dealing with water damage and can help you determine the extent of damage including the cost of reconstruction and removal of the water, as well as necessary cleaning and decontamination steps.
If your home insurance policy covers the type of water damage you have, then you may only have to pay the deductible and have them take care of the rest. If your insurance company balks at paying, you may need to hire an independent insurance adjuster to negotiate for you.
Hiring a Professional to Repair After Water Damage
Your insurance company is a good resource to find reputable professionals who can do the necessary repairs on your home and restoration. If you are hiring someone yourself, make sure they are certified professionals with the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC).
Preventing Water Damage and Early Detection
The insurance company claims adjuster will also help determine the cause of damage and suggest further loss prevention measures, such as:
- Installing sump pumps
- Water backup valves
- Water leak detectors
- Automatic water shut-off valves
Some of these prevention devices may get you discounts on your home insurance policy in the future, which will help keep costs in check if you lose a claims-free discount for making the water damage claim.