1. Stay calm. It’s important for you to be strong and lead your family through this difficult time. Seek out help and support from friends and neighbors as soon as possible. Don’t make rash decisions under pressure.
  2. Contact your insurance agent before you hire any contractors. Most agencies have a claims center that can be contacted by phone 24/7/365. Seek out their help for next steps, especially if professional help is needed for cleanup and repairs.

Never sign a contract for work from a company that approached you after the incident without checking references.

Also, be sure you’re dealing with a local, licensed, reputable business with the proper insurance vs. the first person that approaches you and offers to help.

Be very careful about paying any up-front deposits until you’re 100 percent sure the decision to move forward with the selected contractor is the right one.

Contact your local Home Builders Association for a list of reputable contractors here.

All of Hilton Head Area Home Builders Association’s members can be found at www.hbahh.com.

  1. Secure your property and recover or remove valuables. If necessary, consider renting a storage unit nearby or have a mobile storage unit brought to your site so that you can store your valuables and important documents.

If the damage is too great or the area is too dangerous, seek the help of select professionals through recommendations from your insurance agent, family members, friends, etc.

Never work with anyone that tries to pressure you or wants to be paid a big percentage up front.

  1. Prevent further damage. It’s very important for you not to ignore structures that are repairable.

Make a detailed sweep of your home, business or other property to make sure you can prevent additional damage from exposure to the elements. Consult with your insurance agent to see if they have specific recommendations or procedures.

Tarps, ropes, plywood and other items you might need can be purchased quickly at most discount and hardware stores.

Again, it’s very important to be safe and consider professional help if it’s needed at this time.

  1. Make informed decisions related to repair contracts and costs. Talk to recommended contractors and make sure they understand how to work with your insurance company related to timelines, payments, etc.

Also, don’t be surprised if your insurance isn’t enough to cover the actual costs for certain major repairs.

Don’t just choose the contractor with the lowest price based on price alone. Be comfortable with the entire scenario being proposed by each contractor you plan to hire.

  1. Begin the repairs. By now, many crazy things have probably happened. Continue to be strong and work with reputable people.

When you’re working with hired contractors, you can do your part to keep the work flowing by making selections in a timely manner for things like windows, doors, shingles, siding, cabinets, plumbing, lighting fixtures, flooring, etc.

  1. Create a disaster home inventory. Talk with your insurance agent to see if they can help you in the aftermath of this disaster.

Courtesy of the Hilton Head Area Home Builders Association.