I agree about the adjuster, the co I am using is doing that. Im just
worried about how the smoke traveled inside the walls and floors to
different apartments and if it can come back through the walls and
Well ransley the question here is whether you want the work done
right so you will never have any complaints in the future, or you
to go along with only what your insurance will cover and deal with any
issues that come up later on by yourself out-of-pocket once the claim
has been settled...
Umm... As far as my fire damage experience goes, it is limited to
commercial buildings... Complete stripping of any sheetrock in the
fire/heavy smoke damaged areas and any carpeting which had contact
with the odor and/or run off water from the fire fighting efforts
How many units in the building ? How many effected by the damage ?
If you are opening up the walls, that might open up a can of worms...
Would the electrical be up to current code ? Plumbing ? Would you
have to install sprinkler protection (not sure what your local codes
I assume your occupancy certificate was revoked due to the fire damage
for at least several of the worst damaged units if not the entire
The questions you should be asking your local AHJ is "What do I need
to do to pass inspection and get new certificates of occupancy?"
than what you should be going back and forth with your insurance
over... Prioritize the work by repairing the less damaged units so
can get some rental revenue back ASAP, but in order to do that you
to know what the scope of your work will be as far as what the AHJ is
going to require, not what your insurance company proposes you should
be compensated for...
You are either going to be spending your own money to get the project
going and battling with your insurer via an adjuster to get
or you will be getting payouts in increments for work specifically
by the insurance company... Fighting to include work being required
the AHJ that the insurance company debates whether or not it should be
covered by the loss because the building has not been upgraded over
years prudently to keep up with the changes in the code
As far as the smoke smell coming back -- what are the floors made of ?
Wood should be sanded and resealed with exterior polyurethane like
others have suggested... Carpets and padding should be discarded and
replaced, the sub-floor surface under any carpeting should be
The concept is encapsulation the same with mold/water damage issues...
If you are concerned about the smells which are trapped inside the
the only way to prevent that from being an issue is to gut the walls,
anything structural which you will not remove and replace to
any odors which have been deposited and then rebuild the walls...
If the building is very old, this will give you an unprecedented
to upgrade things which you would never have done under normal
circumstances -- if you are able to access any capital to reinvest in
apartment building now is the time to upgrade electrical, rewire rooms
so you can control wall outlets via a switch loop, install better
cable and internet facilities which your tenants can utilize... Does
individual unit have its own water shut off valves so you can do work
one unit without shutting down the water to the entire building ? You
add sprinkler protection if your building doesn't have it now, every
cavity can be insulated with mineral wool insulation adding more
fire protection and sound deadening between the units and even rooms
within the same unit... Through this disaster you are being given an
opportunity to do a lot of things to bring your building into the
era that most property owners would never dream of doing to a fully
rented apartment house... It all depends on whether you can access
funds and how thorough you want to be in making sure there will be
no further issues down the road... I mean if your tenants are
and rent elsewhere during the repair work, would you be informing the
new tenants that there was fire damage and that the building wasn't
gutted and fully repaired to ensure no smells or mold would occur in
the future from that disaster ? How long do you want to keep making
that disclosure before you can say you fully rebuilt the interiors of
effected units ? It isn't something you can just paint Kilz over and
walk away from especially if it is an older building...
I want it fixed right the right way so there are no issues when its
95-100 outside with 90% humidity, Its a 14 unit with 4 badly affected
by smoke, only one burnt, 2 hallways, and 4 that have had smoke on
walls and its inside the walls opened up, I get code upgrade on the
insurance and have a fire restoration co. Im wondering if smoke that
traveled in the floors and walls will affect more than I can see or
smell now, since now the heat is off and its maybe 45f inside. 4 units
are still rented but one tenant moved from the as she said smoke
smell was comming up through the radiator pipe openings, [what going
to happen when its 90f- 100f and 90% humidity?
I see what you are saying and agree, its a real mess, I had someone
just walk through yesterday and they got a headache and said they
never get headaches, its from the smoke smell.
Floors are oak, and vinyl in kitchens, Can sanding oak cure whats
underneath that the smoke went through the ceilings? And will
Polyurethane keep out that smoke smell? What I am seeing is that smoke
damage is 90% - 95% of the problem and job cost.
Yes all that you have said I see as true, what a mess I have alot to
learn on my first fire. Its good I have code upgrades so I will be
calling the citys inspectors alot to be sure we do it right, but how
do you Know, if you open a wall several apartments away and test it
with a rubber sponge and its dark, that smoke that will not smell
later comming in the fixtures and outlets etc? How do you test and
know when you are ok and to stop? I cant risk loosing tenants because
they complain about smoke next year when its 90f outside and the job
is closed and finished. What I do now will determine everything of the
I don't have experience with smoke damaged wood flooring, but I have
seen a burnt-out area in a building where I used to work have the
concrete floor under the carpeting sandblasted and epoxy painted to
seal it in case of some future water issue...
What sort of fire alarm system did this building have installed prior
to the arson fire incident ? Might be worth some extra money spent
on your part to upgrade that even if it wouldn't be covered by anyone
as you wouldn't want to have any issues down the road...
Without knowing more about the layout of the building and where the
fire damage occurred I really can't offer specific advice as to what
do... It all depends on what has to be opened up and where... But
realistically like I said before, you will probably never be in a
to open up everything ever again unless another fire happens... This
is the time to do any upgrades you ever fantasized about doing as
there will never be a better time...
As to the tenants you have remaining in the building, have you
considered offering them reduced rental rates until the damages
can be repaired -- some rental revenue is better than none if they
decide to leave... Also setting up plastic containment areas and
a "sally port" between the occupied area and the damaged area
in any common access hallways then scrubbing down the occupied
areas even though they don't appear to be dirty would help any
odors dissipate faster... Do not allow any workers or people
coming to examine the fire scene to use the same entrance
to the building as the remaining occupants, they will track
the dirt and odor into the area where people have to live -- use
another entry even if it is inconvenient to access (such as
having to go downstairs to access a basement door and
come back up through the building where it would have been
much shorter to come in directly through the front door)...
I don't know what your situation is tenant wise, a lot of people
who have the means to move after a fire do so because of the
hassles of having to live elsewhere during the rebuilding phase
and a fire loss is one of the things in most leases that can
allow a tenant to break the lease without paying any penalty
or rent after the date of the fire, so many apartment renters
will do just that and only deal with moving once...
Assume every unit that got smoke will need to be completely repainted,
carpet replaced, wood floors resealed. The sooner you have someone
start ventilating them the better. And get the fire damaged materials
out as soon as possible.
On Thu, 31 Mar 2011 06:09:49 -0700 (PDT), jamesgangnc
The insurance company likely won't settle for his assumption. Either
they have to say it, or he has to get someone else to say it, or he
has to get one of those insurance adjuters to negotiate it.
And they may pay only the cost of depreciated carpeting, which is less
than what he'll likely have to pay for replacement. They'll probably
send an adjuster quickly, but he should talk to the adjuster. If he
rips up carpeting he could have kept, he'll have to come up with part
or all of the money to replace it.
*The short answer is yes. Smoke will travel through all penetrations and
openings. Many many years ago I did a short stint with an electrical
contractor who specialized in insurance work. It was almost all fire jobs
and I think that smell still lingers in my nose. The good news is that
after a complete cleanup and everything is replaced or sealed, you would
never know that a fire took place. I don't know how you would get the smell
out of insulation except for replacement. Wood and drywall can be painted,
but even the wall switches and electrical outlets will smell of smoke. I'm
thinking that you would need to open up one side of a wall, remove and
dispose of the insulation, paint the inside of the wall studs and drywall,
install new insulation and close up the one side with new drywall.
In the meantime, I know it's cold outside, but open the windows a little and
start airing the place out. It will be better to work in if some of the
smell is gone.
Document continiously all work done, even though insurance company
will be doing perodic inspections.
Insurance....... hey prove you insulated those walls:(
Sure heres a before and after photo with signs in photos identifying
With walls open its time to make all upgrades, since you can get more
rent for a modern good looking apartment, and better tenants:)
low lives wouldnt want to pay more and go elsewhere:)
<Gang related, a gasolene bomb, and they went for the wrong guy the
cops said. So it spread real fast at 330 am on the coldest night of
the year, near 0. 47 doors and windows the fire dept busted out,>
Yeow! Is this California? No wait, not at 0 degrees. California is what I
think when I hear the words "gang related" although I realize gangs are
everywhere these days. I read some Mexican gang has a nationwide dialup &
deliver heroin franchise and that they solict new customers in the parking
lots of drug rehab clinics. They use beater cars and burner phones and
never carry more than one delivery at a time. Even when they catch them,
they can't make trafficking stick because of the small amounts. Forfeiting
a beater Cheby and a $10 throw-away phone is not much of a penalty. When
they do manage to get themselves jailed, they recruit new members for their
Sorry about your loss. You can do everything right and still get nailed.
Who said there's no such that as luck? There's definitely good AND bad
luck! I went through a subzero fire. What the fire didn't burn, the
fireman chopped, drowned and froze. But this was a rowhouse and I
understand the need to keep fires contained quickly, especially on windy
nights, before they spread to other houses. I've known of whole blocks of
rowhouses that went up in flames from a single ignition point. When it was
all over it started snowing. It's an eerie feeling watching moonlit
snowflakes falling into what's left of your living room. )-:
<Yes gangs, in Chicago, just a few can ruin a neighborhood, or whole
town or maybe our country. They sure are ruining their home country
Got 'em here in DC. Won't even type their name as they seem to ego surf for
bad publicity. (-: I feel like I know Chicagoland because WGN is one of the
few channels left on my Comcast Basic Cable Screwjob. I've also been
watching the Chicago Code on TV. Pretty entertaining. Lots of scenes
filmed in and around town. Lived in Buffalo for a while, so I know about
lake effect snow, too. There were ropes rigged alongside all the building
pathways at U of B because the wind and snow and ice got so bad in the
winter. I remember pulling myself along to reach an 8AM chem class thinking
"I thought I was going to college, not climbing Mt. Everest with a load of
We had a great anti-gang task force but that got defunded just in time for
what I predict will be a rise in criminal activity due to the economy. It's
just part of the great boom/bust cycle.
There are codes which must be maintained for rental buildings, you get
inspections every few years so K T in a rental in my area is unlikely.
Here the inspectors tag you if they see peeling paint, a rusted gutter
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