General Laws and Regulations
The purpose of this section is to give a partial overview of some of the requirements that are generally required in the construction industry.
You should always consult on attorney for legal advice and the local codes division of codes interpretation.
Q. Who does the work on a home?
A. Only the owner of the home or a licensed contractor working for the owner may work on the home.
Q. What are the present requirements when getting work done on my home?
A. If you are going to perform construction on your home you will need a building permit. To obtain a permit you need personal identification plans showing the repair, a scope of work and an estimate of the cost of the repair. You will also need a survey showing the house on the lot and the requested addition if you are adding any square footage to the home.
You need to hire a contractor:
Q. Can I act as my own contractor?
A. Yes, in some municipalities; no in others. Check your codes enforcement division in your community.
Q. Do all workers have to be licensed to work on my house?
Q. How long does a builder have to guarantee their work?
A. If you don’t have a written contract with a builder, the state statutes require a minimum of a 1 year guarantee on all workmanship.
The builder guarantees the workmanship for more than the one year. Then the length of the guarantee is increased to the number of years the builder’s contract states. White Oak Construction & Restoration guarantees workmanship for five years.
Q. Is the work done by subcontractors guaranteed by the contractor?
A. Yes, if you hire a contractor licensed in the category of the work requested. A general contractor in residential or commercial covers all aspects of the home construction. Obviously a contractor with only a plumbing license should not be hired to do anything except plumbing.
Q. What qualifies for insurance coverage?
A. Only what is listed in your policy. As a general rule the coverage is for a “sudden and accidental loss” and for a repair with wood or maintenance type damage covered by any insurance company.
The following is a partial amended re-print provided by the American Red Cross.
Your own and your family’s emotional care and recovery are just as important as rebuilding a home and healing physical injuries.
You may be surprised at how you and others may feel after a disaster. Disasters can stir up many different feelings and thoughts. People may experience fear concerning their safety or that of a loved one, shock, disbelief, grief, anger and guilt. Memory problems, anxiety and/or depression are also possible after experiencing a disaster.
Disasters are upsetting experiences for everyone involved. Children, senior citizens, people with disabilities and people for whom English is not their first language are especially at risk. Children may become afraid and some elderly people may seem disoriented at first. People with disabilities may require additional assistance. It is important to let children and elderly people know that they are safe and that you will help them find a safe place to stay. It is also important that you try to talk with them in a calm way.
When disaster strikes, a child’s view of the world as a safe and predictable place is temporarily lost. Children become afraid that the event will happen again and that they or their family may be injured or killed. The damage, injuries and deaths that can result from an unexpected or uncontrollable event are difficult for most children to understand.
How a parent or other adult reacts to a child following any traumatic event can help children recover more quickly and more completely. Children of different ages react in different ways to trauma. Your local Red Cross can provide a variety of materials to help children cope with disaster.
Some basic steps you can take to meet physical and emotional needs:
1. Try to return to as many of your personal and family routines as possible.
2. Get rest and drink plenty of water.
3. Limit your exposure to the sights and sounds of disaster, especially on television, the radio and in the newspapers.
4. Focus on the positive.
5. Recognize your own feelings.
6. Reach out and accept help from others.
7. Do something you enjoy. Do something as a family that you have all enjoyed in the past.
8. Stay connected with your family and/or other support systems.
9. Realize that, sometimes, recovery can take time.
If you have more questions or observe unusual behavior in your children, which you think may be caused by a reaction to the disaster, contact your local Red Cross chapter, child’s counselor or community professional for additional information and help.
The Red Cross can also arrange for you to talk with a member of its disaster staff who has special expertise in dealing with disaster stress for more information.
CHECKING YOUR HOME
Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter. Do not cut or walk past colored tape that was placed over doors or windows to mark damaged area unless local authorities advise that it is safe to do so. If a building inspector has placed a colored-coded sign on the home, do not enter it until you get more information, advice and instructions about what the sign means and whether it is safe to enter your home.
If you have children, leave them with a relative or friend while you conduct your first inspection of your home after the fire. The site may be unsafe for children, and seeing the damage firsthand may upset them and cause long-term effects, including nightmares.
CHECKING FOR STRUCTURAL DAMAGE
Check the outside of your home before you enter. Look for loose power lines, broken or damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage. See if porch roofs and overhangs still have all their supports. If you see damage on the outside, it could indicate that the inside of your home is seriously unsafe. Ask a building inspector or contractor to check the structure before you enter.
If there is no significant visible outside damage, then check inside. Carefully open the door. If it is jammed, do not force it open. It may be providing support to the structure of your home. If you force open the door, it may cause parts of your home to collapse or become more damaged. Find another way to enter your home. Those who do enter your damaged home should wear long pants, a long sleeved shirt, closed- toe rubber-soled shoes or boots and work gloves. Depending on the situation dist masks, safety glasses (or goggles) and/or a hard hat and other safety equipment may be needed. Many people are injured after disasters during clean-up – the last thing that you want to do is add injuries to the list of things to take care of after a disaster.
Smell or sniff for gas. If you detect the odor of natural or propane gas, or hear a hissing noise, leave the property immediately and get well away from it. Call the fire department using a cellular telephone or a neighbor’s phone. If the fire department instructs you to do so, turn off the gas with the proper tool at the valve on the outside meter. When natural gas is turned off at the main valve, it must be turned back on by a professional to endure that the proper sequence is followed to restore gas service and prevent possible gas leaks, fires or an explosion.
If you have a propane tank system, turn off all valves and contact a propane supplier to check the system out before you use it again.
Throughout your first day back, and beyond, check for smoke and embers throughout the home, including the attic.
Beware of animals, such as rodents, snakes, spiders an insects, that may entered your home. As you inspect your home, tap loudly and often on the floor with a stick to give notice that you are there. Animals (including snakes) do not want encounters with humans, and will move away if you make your presence known.
Objects, such as furnishings or building parts that have been damaged, may be unstable. Be very cautious when moving near them. Avoid holding, pushing or leaning against damaged parts.
Check the ceiling for signs of sagging. Water from fire hoses or rain may wet plaster or wallboard. Wet plaster or wallboard is very heavy and dangerous if it falls. Wear protective clothing, including eye protection and a hard hat.
Check the floor for signs of sagging. Again, floor such as plywood that was damaged by water from fire hoses could collapse under human weight. Avoid walking on sagging floors.
If power is out, use a flashlight to inspect for damage and for as long as the power remains out. DO not use any open flame, including candles, to inspect for damage or serve as alternate lighting.
Take photographs of the damage. You may need these to substantiate insurance claims later.
CLIMATE CONTROL SYSTEMS
If you have a heating oil tank system, turn off all valves and contact a professional specializing in maintenance of such equipment before using it again.
If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using sinks, showers or toilets and call a plumber.
If water pipes are damaged, turn off the water at the main valve. Call a plumber for assistance.
CHECKING HOUSEHOLD ITEMS
Normal household items, such as cleaning products, can cause toxic fumes and other hazards if they mix.
If you smell a noxious odor, or your eyes water from fumes of mixed chemicals, open a window and get out of your home. Call for professional help.
If there are spilled chemicals that do not pose a health risk, be sure to put on rubber gloves in addition to other protective clothing.
Throw away food, beverages and medicine exposed to heat, smoke or soot. Food that was in the freezer can be used if it still has ice crystals on it. If not, discard it.
Contact your insurance agent, broker or insurance company as soon as you can to report how, when and where the damage occurred. Provide a general description of the damage.
Prepare a list of damaged or lost items and provide receipts if possible. Consider photographing or videotaping the damage where it occurred for further documentation to support your claim.
If possible, keep damaged items or portions of those items until the claims adjuster has visited your home. Do not throw away anything you plan to claim without discussing it with you adjuster first.
Keep receipts for all additional expenses that you may incur such as lodging, repairs or other supplies.
Make copies of all documents and pictures given to your claims adjuster or insurance company.
VITAL DOCUMENTS AND WHOM TO CONTACT ABOUT REPLACEMENT:
DRIVER’S LICENSE – Department of Motor Vehicles
GOVERNMENT ISSUED ID – Contact the issuing authority
INSURANCE POLICIES – Your insurance agent or company
MILITARY DISCHARGE PAPERS – Department of Veterans Affairs, 1-800-827-1000 or TDD/TTY 1-800-829-4833
PASSPORTS – State Department-Passport Services, 202-955-0430 (24 hours)
BIRTH, DEATH AND MARRIAGE CERTIFICATES – Bureau of Records in the appropriate state
SOCIAL SECURITY OR MEDICARE CARDS – Local Social Security office, 1-800-772-1213 or TDD/TTY 1-800-325-0778
CREDIT CARDS – The issuing companies as soon as possible.
MASTERCARD: contact issuing financial institution
VISA: contact issuing financial institution
AMERICAN EXPRESS: 1-800-441-0519
DISCOVER: 1-800-347-2683, TDD/TTY 1-800-347-7449
TITLES TO DEEDS – Records department of the area in which the property is located
STOCKS AND BONDS – issuing Company or your broker
WILLS – Your attorney
INCOME TAX RECORDS – The IRS center where filed, your accountant or 1-800-829-1040
CITIZENSHIP PAPERS – Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, 1-800-375-5283
MORTGAGE PAPERS – Lending institution
Make sure that the contractor rebuilding your home is licensed, has workman’s compensation and general liability insurance and obtains a building permit and follows the current building, fire and electrical codes for your area.
Make sure that smoke alarms are installed following your local fire protection codes. We recommend having smoke alarms installed inside each sleeping room, hallway outside sleeping areas, and at least one on every floor of your home. The smoke alarms should be interconnected so that if one alarm sounds, all will sound. The alarms should be operated by both household power and batteries in case the household power is out. (New fire codes require this type of smoke alarm to be installed. Check with local authorities about the prevailing fire code in your area).
It is a good idea to make sure that you have updated your Family Disaster Plan and replenished essential disaster supplies just in case a disaster happens again. You will always feel better knowing that you are prepared and ready for anything. The American Red Cross encourages taking five key disaster preparedness steps: make a plan, build a kit, get trained, volunteer and give blood. For more information about preparedness, ask your local Red Cross chapter.
Consider purchasing homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.
Make copies of important documents, such as birth and marriage certificates and insurance policies, and store these in a safe place.
For more information and assistance with your insurance loss, email us with your questions (firstname.lastname@example.org).