When you hire a contractor for a major renovation, a home improvement project, or a minor repair, you expect the contractor to be thorough, detail-oriented, and able to anticipate and address certain problems that may arise. Most contractors consistently do very good work and their customers are happy with the outcome. However, when it comes to paying attention to detail, some contractors are not as thorough as others.
When things go wrong or the work is not done properly, it can cause a range of problems, including water damage to the property. If your home has water damage that was caused by your contractor, you are urged to contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
Water can cause severe damage in the home, particularly when it goes unnoticed for an extended period of time. When the problem becomes obvious, it usually requires immediate attention to fix. While water damage can be caused by a range of factors, there are situations where the contractor is responsible. The following are examples of ways that a contractor can cause water damage:
- A roofing crew may rush the job if they fall behind schedule. Poor workmanship and inattention to detail can lead to badly installed shingles and a roof that leaks.
- If an HVAC contractor misses pinholes in the AC’s drip pan, water can accumulate in the attic and start to leak through the ceiling.
If you detect water damage in your home, there are steps you should take to address the source of the damage and make sure that the affected areas are properly repaired:
- Contact your insurance company. Explain the problem to your insurance agent and give them your contractor’s contact information.
- Notify your contractor. Let your contractor know that you have notified your insurance company about the water damage. They should contact their insurance carrier so they can negotiate a fair settlement.
- Hold off on cleanup. Do not clean up the water damage until the adjuster is able to examine the extent of the damage.
How Do I Detect Signs of Water Damage in My House?
Unless there is a broken pipe or water is leaking through the roof or ceiling, water damage is not always visible. There are many areas in the home that can be the source of water damage. Knowing where to look can help you detect the problem early and prevent extensive water damage. The following are some of the best ways to detect early signs of water damage:
- Inspect pipes with a flashlight. Water damage in hard-to-see places like under sinks and behind toilets can cause pipes to corrode and connections to loosen. Use a flashlight to check for leaks, which can cause damage as well as increase your water bill.
- Check all appliances. All major appliances in your home have various pipes and hoses, which can cause damage if they leak. Check the interior and exterior of the appliances and look for leaks, faulty pipe connections, and worn hoses. Check the cooling unit as well to make sure there are no leaks.
- Check the walls for signs of water damage. Water damage behind walls often appears as a dirty spot, but it is actually a stain caused by a leaky pipe. Other signs of water damage behind walls include blistered paint, peeling wallpaper and hairline cracks in the drywall.
- Walk barefoot. If the floor or carpet is damp, you can detect dampness, buckles in the floor coverings, and warps in the hardwood floor much better with bare feet. This may be a sign that there are more serious issues, like water damaged subflooring.
- Check the wood window trim. If the wood starts to crumble or peel, it is likely a sign of water damage from leaks around the window.
- Look at the ceiling. If you notice a stain on the ceiling, this is a common sign of water damage. Oftentimes, this is caused by a clogged AC drip pan or a leaky pipe in the attic. If you notice bulges or buckling, this can result in the ceiling collapsing.
- Check the roof for leaks. Loose shingles and curled flashing are common causes of leaky roofs. This can cause water damage in the attic, as well as moldy installation or stains on supporting beams.
- Inspect the basement walls. Most basement walls are made of concrete, which is very porous. Check the walls with a moisture meter or plastic patch, which is a do-it-yourself trick to determine whether damp basement walls are caused by other problems.
- Check the foundation. Walk around the perimeter of the house and inspect the foundation. Look for cracks and crumbling areas, which may be caused by interior plumbing leaks. Pay attention to where the damage is compared to what you found when inspecting the foundation.
- Use your sense of smell. Damp walls, carpets, and floors give off a musty, unpleasant smell. If you notice this smell in your home, it could mean that you have a hose leaking or a plumbing issue that can cause water damage.
Does My Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage Caused by a Contractor?
Your homeowners insurance policy may cover the costs associated with the water damage. However, it will depend on your specific homeowners policy, the type of damage, and what caused the water damage. The following are examples of situations where your insurance company will likely pay for water damage:
- Accident coverage. This coverage pays for damage caused by accidents, including fires, structural damage, and water damage. It is included in most homeowners insurance policies and can be used if a contractor causes damage to a home.
- Property damage. From an insurance perspective, it is important that you understand that there is a difference between poor quality work and work that actually causes damage. While your insurance company will not cover shoddy work, they will likely cover the damage that was caused by a contractor.
- Damages are within your policy’s coverage limits. Prior to hiring a contractor, it is highly recommended that you closely review your homeowners policy so that you are aware of what is covered and what is not. For example, many policies cover damages that occur during a home remodel, but do not cover damages from individual projects or additions.
When is the Contractor’s Insurance Responsible for Covering Water Damage?
If you have filed a claim with your homeowners insurance company for water damage caused by your contractor and they agree to pay for the damages, it is highly likely that your insurance company will try to collect repayment from the contractor’s insurance. If your claim is denied by your insurance company, you may be able to seek financial compensation for the contractor’s liability insurance, which is designed to pay for damages caused by a contractor’s errors. Some contractors also carry faulty workmanship coverage, which allows you to collect compensation for negligent work, even if it does not result in any damage to the property.
What Steps can I Take to Hire the Right Contractor?
If you are planning on hiring a contractor for a home improvement project or a home repair, you want to make sure that you hire someone who has a proven track record of doing excellent work. Before you sign any contracts and officially hire a contractor, take the following steps to ensure that your home is in good hands:
- Research the contractor’s reputation by looking them up online, and ask friends or family members that have used the contractor if they were satisfied with their work.
- Find out if the contractor carries contractor liability insurance as well as Workers’ Compensation insurance.
- Check the Better Business Bureau or the state licensing board to verify information about the contractor.
- Review your homeowners insurance policy at least once a year. Make updates to the coverage for water damage if necessary.
- Reach out to an experienced restoration contractor who is familiar with the insurance claims process.
How can a Lawyer Help Me?
Too often, insurance companies try to find ways to deny a property owner’s claim or compensate them much less than they deserve. In addition, the process of recovering damages can be complex and time-consuming because there are two insurance companies involved: yours and the contractor’s. In order to ensure that you reach a favorable settlement, you are urged to contact an experienced lawyer who understands how much your claim is worth, knows what insurance policy covers, and will negotiate the maximum settlement amount.
Los Angeles Property Insurance Lawyers at ACTS Law Assist Clients With Water Damage Claims
If your property has water damage which you believe was caused by your contractor, do not hesitate to contact our Los Angeles property insurance lawyers at ACTS Law. We will conduct a thorough investigation to determine who is liable for the damage. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 833-ACTS-LAW or contact us online. With offices located in Los Angeles and San Diego, we serve clients throughout Southern California.