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n response to New Zealand’s recent flooding events, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide for managing the aftermath of a flood-damaged home, and what to expect when organising your repairs or restoration.

Above all, this guide is about giving you what you need to know to start returning your home to a liveable condition.

Auckland recorded a total of 539 mm of rain in January (NIWA, 2023)

Taking safety precautions

When returning to a flood-damaged home for the first time, some safety precautions to take include:

  • Turning off the power and gas supply to your home before entering.

  • Wearing protective gear such as rubber gloves, boots, and face masks to avoid direct contact with floodwater and silt dust post flood.

  • Checking for cracks in walls, floors, and ceilings before entering any room to ensure there is no structural damage that may have occurred during the flood.

  • Calling a specialist immediately if you suspect mould or asbestos.

An assessor will inspect your home and the surrounding land.

Assessing a flood-damaged home

If you’re insured, contact your insurance provider first as they will advise the process to follow with assessment and repairs.

An assessment usually involves an assessor inspecting your home and the surrounding land, including the foundation, walls, floors, ceilings, and electrical systems.

If you have safe access to your home and you are starting to document the damage for your claim, not all damage may be immediately visible, so it’s important to also inspect areas such as crawl spaces, if possible.

Here are some things to keep in mind when assessing your home to document the damage:

  • Water damage: Assess how much water has entered your home and how long it has been there. The longer the water sits, the more damage it can cause.

  • Flooring: Check for any warping or buckling in your flooring, especially timber. If you have carpet, it may need to be replaced.

  • Walls and ceilings: Look for any signs of water damage such as discoloration, peeling paint or wallpaper, or sagging ceilings.

  • Electrical systems: Have electrical systems and appliances assessed for water damage before using them.

  • Foundation: Inspect your foundation for any cracks or shifting.

Document as much of the damage as you can with evidence like photos and videos.

Dealing with insurance claims

Here’s what you need to know about insurance claims and repairs:

  • Document as much of the damage as you can with evidence like photos and videos.

  • If you need to get urgent repairs done, try and keep anything that has been replaced and keep a copy of the purchase or repair invoice.

  • Be prepared for third-parties to visit your property to assess the damage to determine coverage.

  • Keep in mind that the claims process may take time, depending on the extent of the damage.

Drying out the affected area

To start drying out the affected area(s) of a flood-damaged home, take these steps:

  • Turn off the electricity in the affected area.

  • Remove standing water using a pump or wet vacuum.

  • Open windows and doors to increase air circulation.

  • Remove any wet materials such as carpets, furniture, and insulation.

  • Use fans and dehumidifiers to dry out the affected area.

  • Clean and disinfect the affected area generously.

Cosmetic repairs like flooring and walls can be left until after structural repairs.

Restoring damaged wall and floor linings

After removing any water and debris from the affected area, start with repairing any structural damage to your home that could pose a safety risk.

Engage a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP) to design or carry out the structural or weathertightness work, especially if the foundations, walls or roof have been damaged.

Next, focus on repairing any electrical systems, followed by cosmetic repairs such as replacing flooring or repainting walls.

We spoke with LBP, Shane from Renovation Specialists Ltd who provided us the typical stages of a strip-out:

  • Leave window jams and door architraves in place.

  • Remove the skirting.

  • Cut and remove the interior GIB boards.

  • Remove any wet insulation.

  • Strip the shower and vanity (bathroom).

  • Dismantle kitchen and joinery (kitchen).

  • Strip back and remove flooring.

  • Estimated time for strip-out: 2 weeks

  • Estimated time for major repairs: 2 to 4 months (on average)

If your electrical system is compromised, call on a licensed electrician.

Replacing damaged electricals

Potential signs of damage to your electrical systems include submerged sockets, burning smells, or electrical smoking, fires or arcing.

Connect with a licensed electrician to assess any damage, if you suspect that the electrical system has been compromised. You may be advised to keep your electrical mains switched off until then.

Keep electrical appliances elevated and avoid using them until you have been advised that it is safe to do so by an electrician.

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Hiring a professional for restoration

A trade professional will save you time, money, and stress in the long run when it comes to restoring your home after a natural disaster.

The benefits of hiring a professional for your restoration are:

  • Expertise: They’ll create a tailored restoration plan.

  • Equipment: They’ll properly assess the damage with the right equipment.

  • Efficiency: They’ll quickly address any standing water or moisture issues.

  • Safety: They’ll identify potential health hazards, such as mould growth, and asbestos.

  • Timeframes: They can minimise the amount of time your home is out of commission.

  • Insurance: They may have experience working with insurance companies and can get you the necessary repairs.

  • Advice: They can provide valuable advice on how to protect your home in the future.

  • Peace of mind: They’ll ensure your home is being restored safely and correctly.

“Insulation holds onto water” – Shane from Renovation Specialists Ltd.

An expert’s take on a flood-damaged home

Shane from Renovation Specialists Ltd has had first-hand experience of the challenges of restoring a flood-damaged home.

“Every scenario, house and landscape is different,” Shane says.

Before starting any work, Shane will discuss the different (remediation) options with the homeowner, and start planning to remove furniture, curtains and other items as quickly as possible.

“Leaving things like walls closed up for too long, means that insulation will cause mould growth… This is because insulation holds onto the water,” Shane says.

Shane’s top three tips for ensuring your home has effective drainage, are:

  • Ensure your drains are clean and that the water can flow around your property.

  • Build your fences with gaps so that water easily get through.

  • Upgrade your drainage system with channels that move the water away from the building, especially if you have a sloping driveway or basement.

Hire a professional to assess your roof for any signs of damage such as missing or cracked tiles.

Preventative measures and tips

If you’re wanting to take preventative measures after you’ve finished the clean up, focus on these areas next:

  • Appliance and electrical: Elevate your appliances and find an electrician who can raise your electrical sockets.

  • Doors and windows: Seal any gaps around doors and windows to prevent flood water damage or install flood-resistant windows and doors if your budget allows.

  • Basement: If you have one, consider waterproofing your basement to prevent water from becoming trapped in your home.

  • Gutters and downpipes: Clean them regularly to prevent water from backing up and overflowing into your home (read more).

  • Roof: Check for any signs of damage, such as missing or cracked tiles. Repair any damage to prevent water entering your home (read more).

  • Plumbing: Check for leaks and fix any issues. A small leak can quickly turn into a big problem if left unchecked.

  • Landscape: Trim trees and bushes near your home to prevent them from falling onto your roof during a storm.

  • Foundations: Assess for any cracks or signs of water damage. Repair any issues to prevent water from entering your home.

Whether your flood-damaged home needs urgent repairs and maintenance or a complete restoration, we hope this guide has helped you feel more informed for the next steps ahead. Stay safe.

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