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When disaster strikes, you have a small window of opportunity to repair the damage quickly and correctly. To do otherwise can cost you dearly in the form of substandard repairs.
The restoration contractor you choose must have knowledge, skills and integrity. Using a qualified contractor becomes even more critical when you consider the ever-increasing advances in restoration technology. Since restoration processes and techniques are continuously improving, you need a contractor who is familiar with advances in the field. It may pay to do some detective work to get the right person for the job.
The restoration and reconstruction industry is teeming with contractors many of which are responsible and qualified. But a close inspection reveals that not all contractors are created equal. Some may use sub-standard materials and techniques or even remove external evidence of damage while internal structures remain unsound. The firm you select will have a major impact on the quality of workmanship you receive. So, how can you avoid wasting time and money on a less than qualified contractor?

A Code of Ethics
First and foremost, ask potential contractors if they abide by a set of formal standards or a professional code of conduct and ask for a copy of it to ensure their adherence to ethical practices. A certification or an affiliation with a respected trade association usually indicates a contractor's commitment to professional standards.

Training and Education
Ask potential contractors about their training in the specific areas you require. For example, water damage contractors should have specialized training in and equipment for repairing water damaged structures and controlling the spread contaminants. Ask first if they have the training, equipment and staff to do the work. Also ask if they have recently attended any research seminars, conferences, or programs to learn about updates in restoration techniques and processes. Professional trade associations offer training and education throughout the year in every region of the country.

Referrals
A reputable contractor should willingly provide references for the same type of damage restoration you require. You should contact those individuals to determine the contractor's quality of work, professionalism, financial arrangements and the claimant's satisfaction. Trade associations are also good sources of qualified contractors. For example, ASCR International's website at www.ascr.org lists qualified restoration contractors by region.

Capabilities
Professional damage repair services involve more than carpet cleaning or home remodeling. Restoration contractors have a specialized knowledge and training which enables them to recognize damaging properties and treat damage effectively. For example, fire damage involves heat effect, smoke residue and odor. Several recognized specialties exist within the industry. They include:
Emergency services to provide security, protect property from weather or mitigate damage. Firms often provide emergency services with related specialties. For example, a fire reconstruction firm will usually provide emergency board-up or temporary electrical service. Firms specializing in the restoration of a buildings and contents may provide emergency drying as well as removal and protection of furnishings.
Building restoration describes the techniques required for removal of smoke residues, odor, the effects of water damage and the treatment of personal property or "contents". Restoration is often performed, as a separate category of work since the techniques and equipment employed in building restoration often differ from those required for reconstruction.
Reconstruction specialists have the skills, organization and know-how that differ markedly from ordinary remodeling and home repair. Reconstruction contractors work with different types of structures and therefor, develop a range of techniques for cost-effective repair.
Contents restoration refers to the treatment of residential and business personal property affected by smoke, water, construction dust or other perils. This work is performed on site or in plant facilities equipped with ozone chambers, drying rooms, ultrasonic cleaners, storage vaults and other in-place equipment.
Special services include processes such as Oriental rug repair, electronics cleaning, freeze-drying documents, structural drying, art restoration, electronic data retrieval, air duct cleaning and hazardous waste disposal.

Professional Affiliations
Lastly, choose a restoration contractor who participates in a trade association or professional network that supplies regular technical resource materials and services. For example, ASCR International members have access to a technical hotline, library, and laboratory where they can get answers to restoration problems.

Don't forget
Once you've selected a reputable contractor to work with, follow the steps below to avoid misunderstandings as the job progresses:
Make all financial arrangements ahead of time and be sure they are understood. Ask for an itemized estimate that shows exactly what the contractor will do.

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