If you’re sitting in a property built prior to the mid-80s, there’s a good chance your walls have a cancer-causing building material inside of them called Asbestos. Often used in drywall and joint compound, the substance was eventually banned from use in many countries. Nevertheless, it was recently reported that even after the ban, it’s still in 50% of homes in some places.
Asbestos is a problem once it becomes airborne and a greater danger with prolonged exposure. Prior to opening walls in a fire or water loss, we’ll test for asbestos. But in the case of a major fire, the fire department would be reckless to procrastinate putting a fire out for testing and will often vent holes in ceilings and walls (if the fire hasn’t opened up the walls already) where asbestos may go airborne.
Often this can lengthen the fire restoration process slightly at the outset of the project as we have to go through the following steps (assuming the property does truly have asbestos).
1. Procedure 5 asbestos report (7-10 Days)
If walls have already been disturbed, the Air Quality Management District (AQMD) will require a third party asbestos testing laboratory to prepare a Procedure 5 report that will spell out the plan and steps to abate the asbestos present as well as disposing of it afterward.
2. Gather asbestos bids (5-7 Days)
Once procedure 5 spells out the steps required, bids are gathered from abatement companies for the insurance company to decide and review coverages with. You are welcome to hire whoever you’d like for asbestos removal (some companies are better than others and use your adjuster, broker or contractor for recommendations if needed!).
3. Once the asbestos company is chosen, the asbestos abatement will start (12-16 days).
The plan has been approved by the AQMD and the Insurance company, the abatement company will perform the work.
4. Once asbestos removal is complete, the engineer will inspect the property.
Now that the framing is exposed, an engineer can get a full glimpse of any structural damages present. Typically engineers will require a few days notice and we will let you know when this is scheduled for. We will always coordinate this with your schedule and give enough notice.
5. Perform remaining demolition
At this point, in order to keep the process moving along, we will look at performing the remaining demolition of materials that do not contain asbestos.
6. Drawing of plans (12-16 days)
This is performed by the engineer. Throughout this time, we will keep you updated as to when the plans are ready for the next step.
7. Review plans with you prior to City submittal and make changes as needed (7-10 days).
Once we have plans in hand, we go over them one more time with you before submitting them to the city in order to prevent having to resubmit and cause delays to the project.
8. Submit plans to the City and plan check process. (4-6 weeks).
This will feel like a lot of “hurry up and wait”. Once we get to this stage, we hold on tight and wait for the city to let us know that plans are approved. There may be revisions requested by the city due to updated code or anything else that building and safety may see. This process takes time but we will keep you updated throughout, even if it’s just to say: we’re still waiting and can’t wait to get started!
Finally, we can help you start restoring your home.
By this point, we’ve probably met with you many times, picked out some materials and done everything we can to hit the ground running. This is when the timeline on your contract begins and when all of the progress really starts to unfold. It’s both your favorite part and ours of this process.
We hope this post clears up some of the confusion and process around the delays with fire restoration. What other questions do you have about fire damage? Let us know in the comments or email us directly to get the process started!