Saturday, June 26, 2010

Homeowners take flood fixes into own hands

Homeowners stuck with damaged homes from the early May flooding are taking matters into their own hands — literally.
With tens of thousands of dollars in damages, many homeowners are rebuilding their own homes, tile by tile and room by room.

As of Thursday, homeowners, not licensed contractors, had pulled more than 60 percent of the 2,440 building permits for flooded homes in Nashville. Some of those may end up hiring general contractors. But others are trying to save money in the face of limited government aid and no flood insurance by handling much of the work themselves.

Contractors and some city officials worry that all of the do-it-yourself projects will come back to hurt flood victims later. For instance, homeowners who take out their own permits assume all the responsibility and liability for the job, instead of putting that on a licensed and insured general contractor.

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"It's a big risk,'' said David Crane, president of Crane Builders, who said he has been consulted by about 40 flood victims recently seeking free advice on how to rebuild their homes themselves.

"You might close up walls and forget to kill the mold. You could skip a step or not insulate properly," Crane warned. All of these are among the factors that can cause delays and add to a homeowner's costs in the long run.

Robinson presses ahead

Some homeowners feel perfectly capable of cleaning up and rebuilding their own homes.

Will Robinson, a 57-year-old tool salesman who lives in Cottonwood Estates in Franklin, refers to a couple of huge post-it-notes stuck to his living room wall to keep track of progress as he rebuilds a flooded home.

The notes read: Obtain drywall, check. Run phone lines, check. Fix hearth, check.

Although he isn't a licensed electrician, Robinson did run some of the wiring under his own flooded house. He had experience doing electrical work while in college. He has also gotten the local building codes department to come out and check his work twice.

"I'm here from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. at night,'' Robinson said. "A general contractor is not going to do that. I don't stop for lunch. I've lost 20 pounds doing this. This is a flood diet."

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