Average Cost of Repairs After Water Damage

Couple wearing black rain boots inside their wet house after sustaining water damage.
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Water Damage is a major cause of home insurance claims and can be very costly to repair. Damage caused by weather, storms, and rising water continue to increase causing thousands of dollars in homeowner claims a year.

The Number of Homes Affected

According to the Insurance Information Institute, one in 50 insured homes has a water damage claim each year. Depending on where the water damage occurs, the costs of repair will vary. You need to take into account several factors, including the 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 will be looking at three sets of costs that you have to add together to understand the total cost of your water damage repairs:

  1. Cost of water removal, cleanup, ventilation, and decontamination
  2. Cost of building and structural repairs
  3. Cost of replacement or cleaning of personal property and mechanical equipment

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
  • If you must 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 Damage and Associated Costs

Depending on the type of water that has entered the home, the cost of repairs will be more or less expensive.

  1. Clean Water Damage is 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.
  2. Grey Water Damage is 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.
  3. Black Water Damage is water coming from a contaminated source like a sewer back up claim. Water coming in through sewer pipes can have harmful bacterial is hazardous to health. Clean up after a sewer back up or another black water incident could be $7.00 per square foot.

    Repairs After Water Damage

    In a home insurance claim where there is water damage as the cause of loss or destruction of property, there are several steps to a cleanup. For damage occurring inside a home, the first four stages before repair or reconstruction even begins can be very costly, easily costing a few thousand dollars in a situation where the home has been flooded with water.

    1. Stop water from coming into the home and allow work to begin
    2. Clear out and safety measures
    3. Ventilation and demolition of affected areas
    4. Cleaning and debris removal
    5. Reconstruction or restoration

    The US Department of Housing and Urban Planning also provides resources to help in dealing with a water damage claim and understanding the requirements for repair and restoration.

    According to FIXR, delaying repairs after water damage could end up costing you thousands of dollars more due to the fact that water damage costs escalate quickly if floors or walls are not properly dried out quickly.

    Clean Up After a Basement Flood

    If you have a sewer back up that causes flooding, or water that flooded your basement, you might end up having to pump out the water from the basement before you can get started on repairs. The size of the affected area is key in determining costs, but an average example when you have a basement that has standing water that is more than one inch deep may cost upwards of $4,000 for the water removal.

    It's tempting sometimes to try and clean up yourself but the problem with water is that it seeps into every possible space and little 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 and work out a plan to help figure out what needs to be done to restore your home, but also to prevent mold damage once you've done all the repairs.

    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, among other steps)
    • Put special treatments on the structure to prevent mold and pest infestations

    Example Costs of Building Repairs After Water Damage

    These estimated costs vary by your location, but here are some ballpark examples to give you an idea of some of the very basic costs of repair and rebuilding your home after a water damage claim.

    These costs are in addition to the cost of removing the water. The prices below are estimates.

    • 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: $5.00/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 spores spreading and additional contamination.

    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.

    Types of Property 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 of the home may be damaged in a major flood, such as ventilation, air conditioning, heating, electrical, plumbing, and other appliances.
    • Personal Property may be damaged. Depending on the type of personal property and the kind of water that entered your home (whether it was clean water from a rainstorm or black water from a sewer back up) will impact what can be saved.

    Additional 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 additional living expenses to live elsewhere while your home is being repaired. Fortunately, there is coverage in most home insurance policies for costs associated with having to stay in a hotel or temporary home if your home is made uninhabitable after a water damage claim.

    These costs may be minimal if you only have to stay out of your home for a few days, but can easily amount to a few thousand dollars if the time to make repairs is over 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 in the reconstruction as well as the removal of the water, and 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.

    Hiring a Professional to Repair After Water Damage

    Again, 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 IICRC.

    Preventing Water Damage and Early Detection

    The insurance company claims adjuster will also be able to help determine the cause of damage, if it was not obvious, and suggest further loss prevention such as:

    1. Installing sump pumps
    2. Water back up valves
    3. Water leak detectors
    4. 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 you if you lose a claims-free discount for making the water damage claim