1st flr tenant clogged toilet, overflowed, and caused damage in basement floor & ceiling - how to quote a repair?

7 Replies

Hi all,

(Apologies if this is posted in the wrong forum - not sure which section this belongs to!)

As in the title, my 1st floor tenant recently clogged his toilet, causing it to overflow, and a good amount of water got through the 1st floor, into the basement's ceiling, and subsequently, floor.

I'm a newbie landlord (just started last year), and not quite sure where to start in terms of getting a quote for repairs. The tenant's dad is a contractor and the tenant offered to have his father look at it - but as you can imagine, I have can't trust the guy's judgement, as the father could just say "no damage" leaving me "holding the bag".

Some areas of the floor and a velvet couch that was in the basement also seems to be growing this dense, white, spider-web like substance (mold?) in certain areas where the water had settled.

There's no water anymore, but the flooding so far damaged:
A) 1/2 of one of the room's drop ceiling tiles [see pic set A]
B) A couch which seems to have this "white growth" [see pic set A]
B) About 1/8 of the main basement room's (sheetrock?) ceiling [See pic set B]

Set A - http://imgur.com/a/lgVhV
Set B - http://imgur.com/a/wsjU0

Long story short, I feel that I need to contact someone to get a quote - but should it be:
- A general contractor?
- A mold removal guy?
- A water / flood specialist?


(Thanks in advance!)

Mitigate damage swiftly! When did the toilet overflow occur? When did you become aware of it? Did the tenant tell you he caused it? Does the tenant have renter's insurance? Do you have insurance?

With water damage, you need to expose and dry as quickly as possible. There is much you can do yourself. To tackle it, you will need to remove the toilet and pull up the floor covering. Remove the damaged subfloor. Dry out the joists. Rent a commercial type blower if you don't have one.

Minor mold and mildew is not difficult to remove or clean if you know how to do it. The EPA has a good booklet "Mold, Moisture, and Your Home" that explains how to prevent mold and how to remedy it.  

From what your photos show, the couch looks like it is mildewed.  The extent of it indicates it has been in a moist environment for quite awhile.  Mildew is tough to get out of fabric.  If it is surface mildew, there is hope.  Carry the couch out of the basement and into the sunlight. Sunlight helps kill mildew. Let the mildew dry and brush it off. Then use white vinegar to clean the fabric. If the damage is deep, get a value on the couch and dispose of it.

Replace the drop ceiling panels and sheetrock in the basement. Floor joists are probably fine, make sure to dry them out. Everything must be dry and wiped clean.

However, if the damage is extensive, you had best make an insurance claim and the insurance company will guide you through the process. They will hire the necessary professionals. 

Call another contractor, do not let the tenant's father involved because you should know which side he is most likely on.  On to the damages, the good thing is that all the white stuff you see on the couch is not mold, it just paint/mud from sheetrock.  What you must do now is air everything out, use a fan and open all windows or use a heater.  Must get everything dry before you can repair the damages.  I don't know how long ago was the incident, but typically mold need a week or so before they can form and be a problem.   If you see it, put on a respirator and spray them with diluted bleach and water, it will take care of the mold.  Trust me, the mold remediation guys will do the same thing.  The ceiling tiles are easy to replace, take a small sample of it to Lowes or HD and get a box of the same design.  By looking at the picture, I think yours called worm drive style.   For the Sheetrock, take a utility or drywall saw (recommended) to remove the damage sections, one manageable piece at a time until the sheetrock no longer feels damp.  Now you could replace the sheetrock yourself if you have some basic tools or you could hire a contractor that will charge you labor and markup of material.  There are some great videos on how to do it on YouTube, let me know if you like some recommendation.  I don't know if you want to do all the labor or just hire it out.  If you have time and a knack for it I say try to do simple repair work, it helps you appreciate your property more.  Good luck 

One last thing, get help if you decided to tackle the project yourself.  Doing drywall overhead is no fun, they are heavy and need to be attached flush to the current ceiling.  You can do it with one person with a floor jack or a T post, which I won't get into here.

@Stephen Chan  Call a water damage company now! That should have been all opened as soon as someone knew about it. There should be so many fans in there it hurts your ears, dehumidifiers running that will make the room warm, and holes smashed in the drywall that looks wet. ( companies around the seattle area are called Servpro.)

Call your insurance guy and tell him what has happened. Most likely his/her renters insurance if they have any will not be enough to cover it.

@Marcia Maynard   is correct by saying removing the toilet. The water damage emergency company you call will probably do that and tear up the floor for you. They will also probe the drywall for moisture and tear out any that needs to come out.

@Kevin Tran  is correct as well. Don't use her family member to fix this. Your insurance guy will help create a scope of work and if you don't feel comfortable calling a contractor on your own, they lots they work with.

This is nothing to drag your feet on! I've been through it twice before and I'm in the middle of it again right now. Call your insurance company and call in a restoration company immediately! It's no fun and it's scary but if you act quickly it can be controlled.

A renters insurance can compensate the loss to a great extent but you need to check with your tenant whether he has it or not. For help you can take assistance from flooded basement cleanup company in Long Island New York and avoid the troubles completely. They will ensure that whatever damage has been caused to your property is quickly recovered.

Hiring a PA is always the best way to go when you have property damage. They will document all the damage and negotiate with your insurance. Studies show that homeowners usually get more insurance money when they hire a public adjuster. They most appealing part of the process is that most public adjusters only get paid after you've been paid by your insurance so you don't have to pay anything our of your pocket. 

Make sure to document every conversation and square inch with photos and video. Don't miss up down and in between. Then make a second set in case you did miss something. This will help with all the above suggestions with insurance and any litigious possibilities - remember you're not in a LL friendly city nor state. Documentation is your ally.

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here