For Homeowner

A Guide to Rebuilding After a Fire

Dec 17, 2019
Design Everest

After the Camp Fire1 in Paradise, California, in November 2018, many people were left without homes. The rebuilding process after a devastating fire or another disaster might seem like a daunting task. No matter what the cause or location is, the below guide has what you need to know for rebuilding your home or place of business.

Factors that Affect the Cost of Rebuilding After a Fire

The extent of damage the fire did to your house. Even when the house is completely lost, there are often still foundation elements that may need to be removed and replaced. The method that was used to extinguish the fire. Sprinklers tend to cause less damage than hoses. The extent of heat the fire caused will also factor into the amount of damage it caused. Larger wildfires can burn much hotter than a localized home fire.

Claim Insurance After the Fire

The first thing to do if your home is destroyed in a fire is to check with your insurance provider, and ask about policy coverage as soon as possible. An insurance adjuster will visit your house and take photos of the damage caused. After this, file an insurance claim with your company. Remember to keep receipts for food, temporary lodging, and other expenses that may be covered. Once the insurance company gives you the green light, you can begin hiring design firms and go ahead with the remodeling and rebuilding process.

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Prepare to Rebuild

  • Remove debris
  • Fire debris can be a health hazard and must be removed quickly.

You can take aid from teams of experts from the California State Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) who will inspect your property and remove any hazardous household waste. Here’s the procedure to avail of the Government-sponsored debris removal program: Property owners must fill in a Right-of-Entry form, following which the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and local officials coordinate with the State’s Debris Task Force and its Debris Management Teams (DMT) to conduct fire-related debris removal from your property. For operational questions regarding the Government-Sponsored Debris Removal Program, you can contact the Cal OES directly at 900 Fortress St, Suite 200, Chico CA or call 530-399-0434.

If your property doesn’t qualify for the Government-sponsored Debris Removal program, or if you choose not to be part of this, you can hire private contractors to carry out this task. An Alternative Fire Debris Removal Application form must be submitted, and a work plan must be approved by the Butte County Environmental Health Division before the commencement of work.

Check for on-site wastewater treatment system damage

After the debris removal, you’ll need to contact a Town-licensed septic evaluator to have the system inspected. You may continue to use your existing septic system, if approved via inspection by a registered inspector. If septic repairs are required to the system, you will need to secure a repair permit. from the Onsite Septic Division.

Onsite Septic Division days/times:

5555 Skyway – Paradise
Phone: (530) 872-6291
Fax: (530) 877-5059
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Monday to Thursday)
8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (Friday)

Install temporary housing

Federal, state, and local partners have collaborated to provide direct housing solutions to individuals and families most severely impacted by the 2018 California wildfires. It makes sure that eligible disaster-affected residents are placed in travel trailers and manufactured housing units at particular identified locations.

To obtain this service, you must be registered and verified with FEMA.

To find out more about FEMA Temporary Housing sites, you can visit their website2.

Before You Rebuild
  • Plan your remodel-hire professionals

You can hire professionals, like architects, engineers, general contractors, designers, landscape architects, and more, depending upon your requirement.

  • Research permit history

Visit this website3 to find out the zoning of your property and how the use of the property is regulated. Enter your address and access the property profile that will include a link to the zoning regulations.

You can find the permit history online or from the City Hall, and this will help you know which all structures can now be replaced in the rebuilding process. You may also be able to obtain the previous or original building plans, which will help to ensure that the house is rebuilt correctly.

  • Research incentives and rebates

You might also be eligible for rebates and incentives to be more energy- and water-efficient. This, in turn, would lower the cost of your rebuild.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announced that it would increase financial incentives for energy-efficient construction practices in homes or businesses rebuilt after a wildfire.

  • Consult all relevant departments before submission

Make sure that your plans are approved by all relevant departments such as the fire department, water department, and electricity department. Water sampling for all water resources may be conducted by the Butte County Public Health laboratory or by a local state-certified laboratory (FGL and Basic Laboratory in Chico, CA).

  • Prepare your application to rebuild

Depending upon the extent of change you will be making to the original structure, the application fees might vary.

  • Submit plans and obtain a building permit

Permits are essential to ensure that all buildings meet minimum standards that protect its occupants and neighbors in everyday living, and also in case of emergencies or natural disasters. These are issued by the Community Development Services department counter that is located at the Town Hall, 5555 Skyway, Paradise.

Start Construction

Once the procedure of submitting plans and obtaining permits is finished, find a reliable and licensed contractor to complete the construction. Licensed contractors are registered with the State Licensing Board, and the details about these contractors can be found by visiting this website4 or by calling 800-321-2752. But beware of stormchaser contractors who may not be from your area!

Inspections

Inspections are required to ensure that the construction work is being carried out according to the plan, and as per the safety standards. Inspections occur throughout the construction process.

Prevention Measures for the Future
  • Test the smoke detectors periodically.
  • Get a fire extinguisher and learn to use it.
  • Clear all combustible vegetation from within 30 feet of the house.
  • Chart out an evacuation plan that's understood by your family and neighbours.

Got questions related to civil or architectural engineering? Our team of experienced California-licensed engineers can help you with the right advice and services.

Call us at (877) 704-5727 or email your requirements to info@designeverest.com for a no-obligation quote followed by a consultation.

Sources:
[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2018/11/camp-fire-ravages-paradise-california/575461
[2] https://buttecountyrecovers.org/fema-group-site-information/
[3] https://www.townofparadisemapping.com/
[3] http://www.cslb.ca.gov/

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