I am looking at a property with fire damage. The price is awesome and the area is a B class neighborhood, but it has extensive fire damage on the first floor ( it is a 2 family). No interior access is allowed at this time.
I expect some major water, smoke and structural damage, but not sure what else to look out for.
So, my question is....has anyone ever done a rehab/flip on a fire damage property and what are the pros and cons of taking on this type of project?
Fire damaged property repair, like many other areas of construction is a specialty area. If you will be hiring a contractor for the work you should be looking for someone who has a history performing fire damage repairs. Many insurance companies have contractors they use for fire damage repair. Get estimates from 3 or 4 different contractors and talking with them you will learn a little more from each one. They will be able to give you an idea of the extent of damage without actually getting inside. What they give you will be nothing more that a guesstimate. But, before I would make an offer I would like the opportunity to review the specific extent of damage and I'm sure any reputable contractor would feel the same way. Be careful not to fall victim to a low ball price and contingency for change orders. What you want is a clear picture of the project from the beginning.
Depending upon the location of the fire and the extent, there are many variables. Along with the obvious burnt structural and cosmetic components, heat from a fire (and in some cases it can be extreme) will have adverse effect on masonry components. It will damage plumbing pipes (especially plastic). The heat from a fire will cause wiring insulation to melt, causing circuits to short, which will then cause resultant damage to associated electrical equipment. If there is ductwork associated with the heating and/cooling systems, that ductwork will retain the smoke smell and will need to be replaced. Fire and water damage usually also effects the insulation, which will also retain that smoke smell. There are paints/coatings available that will seal charred framing members and conceal the smell.
Do a google search on fire damage repair or fire damage restoration procedures.
Great insight Tom. I'm currently looking at a fire damaged property and this is was timely. Thanks again
My advise is do not take on this project. It is for those that have done this sort of thing before. You might be better off if you do think about this project to think of a complete or almost complete tear down down to the bare minimum allowed in your city and still qualify for a remodel permit. The remodel permit is less expensive and much quicker to get than one for all brand new construction. Usually the city will have a special procedure for inspection as well for fire damaged buildings.
Think like this. Would it make sense to spend money building a brand new building on that particular location. Will it comp out? Will you be able to sell it for what it will cost you for all brand new construction?
Also be prepared to take a very long time doing a project like this. I have done many and it never works out the way anyone plans because of the extent of the damage. That is why you may be able to get it at a very low price but not compared to what it may cost you to bring it back into living condition.
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