How to avoid snake oil salesmen in a disaster cleanup.

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I have seen my fair share of individuals taking advantage of disaster victims.  Some will come with contracts and high prices.  Some will come with just pickup trucks.  You might be reacting to the disaster and feel its the only way, but hopefully you will see there is another way.

First real priority is to get out your stuff completely.  Most will be trashed, but outside will not only clear a working space for others, but provide a place for stuff to dry.  This is great time to do it yourself, ask for neighbors, friends, and community organizations to help.  Calling a local handyman, local contractor, and even contacting day laborer places like Labor Ready can help give you the added muscle to clear everything out.  If there is bio hazard such as sewage or fuel involved, call a reputable remediation company.  Demo for the most part is a place to get involved yourself.

Second priority is to remove the damaged drywall, insulation, flooring, cabinetry to allow for drying.  Once again, this is not rocket science.  Only pull out what was wet.  Refer here and here for more information.  Once again, you can do this yourself, or with the help of others.  Immediacy is supremely important.

For Trash, get a dumpster, or read this for street placement from our local news read last paragraph in particular.

So if you pay someone, I want to give you some monetary measurements to bargain with the companies that are there to demo out.  Now please, don’t send me hate mail if you can’t find anyone for these prices right now, I am just putting them out there for bench marks.  Your home may be unique.  It also depends on how much of your personal possessions are still in the way.

Here is how to calculate what you should expect after your stuff is out of the way. First calculate the square footage of your affected area, and then multiply that by the numbers in each category and add them up.  For a sample, I will use 1000 sq ft.

Water extraction 1 per square ft

Drywall, baseboard, and cabinetry demo. 1-3 per square ft depending on complexity.

Flooring Demo Usually is included in above price, but for complex Situations, add 1.50 per square ft

So for 1000 square ft, you are looking at anywhere from 2-5.50 a square ft.  $2000-$5500

Now remember, its important to look at your situation and try and be realistic.  Let whoever is there know that you are familiar with honest prices.  You might add 20-25 percent for a management company if someone will be running the show.  And remember, the more you do, the less it should cost.

The snake oil comes into play when the salespeople try and talk about a special treatment for the affected areas.  A pump up bug sprayer with a bleach water mixture should sanitize whatever you need to sanitize.  Once again, your situation may be particular with sewage etc, but at least you have something to combat them with.

Sure large dehumidifiers work great, and high velocity fans.  But for most basements, crawlspaces, and open areas, box fans, shop fans etc will do just fine.  Open as many windows as possible, Have air accessible to every wet area.  I like to aim fans out, as it tends to pull air through the space. Most remediation companies will bill you for the length of time their equipment is sitting there.

So avoid the snake oil, use common sense and and keep your money for the rebuilding.




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2 Responses to How to avoid snake oil salesmen in a disaster cleanup.

  1. BigMac May 7, 2010 at 12:38 PM #

    Hello Chris,
    I was wondering if you could help me with a question. I am in FL and spent 3 decades in the building trades. A buddy of mine who is also semi-retired was a foreman on a crew. We were discussing pulling our old bones out of retirement (we’re both 55 yrs old) and bringing our trucks and tools up to TN or KY in order to help.
    We are honest guys, and we could also use the additional cash, since our retirements were almost wiped-out by the recession.
    Is there a way we could ramp-up, re-tool and bring a few younger guys with us to help out and make some money too?
    We’re not price-gouging carpetbaggers, in fact, we’d work with the homeowner(s) and insurance companies. (In fact, we’ve discussed working 4 days and volunteering for 2 for those who were uninsured.)

    We could also arrange to bring-in temp housing trailers or prefabs. Whatever is most-needed to help fellow Americans.

    • Chris Crimmins May 7, 2010 at 9:24 PM #

      Keith, In the upcoming months and year, there will be an amazing amount of work to be done, where any qualified individual could play a part. I am sure many contractors and homeowners could put a quality crew to work.

      Here is what you should do.

      Contact a few contractors in the area describing what type of projects your team could take on. Most of this work will start up in 2-3 weeks for the small stuff, and a month or so for the medium projects. Larger ones will probably take a but more. So you need to get on it.

      Develop a short portfolio and references to show your building expertise.

      We need quality individuals to join us. Hopefully you will be one of them.

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